Red alert before the big departures on vacation, with a risk of clusters in the TGV? The controversy falls at the worst time for the SNCF, mobilized in the summer of 2021. A vast seduction operation was launched a few weeks ago, with 5 million tickets at 39 euros maximum, to attract the French once again to the trains . Cheap perhaps, but dangerous? The Parisian-Today in France takes stock.
SUD-Rail unpacks a grenade … then clears the controversy
At the SNCF, it was the SUD-Rail union which set fire to the powder, by exercising “a right of alert for serious and imminent danger”. The Rhône labor inspectorate, which took up the subject, pointed out “insufficient air renewal” in said trains. But since… the power station seems to be backtracking.
“We do not want to do catastrophism, or empty the TGV,” where “there are no clusters, no more risks than in an RER or a supermarket,” insisted Erik Meyer, the federal secretary of the union. “The heart of our approach is the health of the employees on board”, because “the management does not take the necessary preventive measures”, he explained. In the end, “the controversy took on an exaggerated dimension”, confides a unionized agent, according to whom “it was above all a matter of alerting, internally, to the lack of resources for staff”. SUD-Rail is particularly asking for FFP2 masks for controllers.
SNCF denies any specific danger
“The urgency is to reassure and extinguish this false controversy, insists a representative of the railway company, reached this Saturday by telephone. All the studies clearly show that transport is not a place where there is an increased risk of contamination. Unfortunately, these subjects quickly create perception biases for our users… ”SNCF also ensures that“ the supply of outside air in a TGV is permanent and managed by a dedicated ventilation system ”. Specifically, this system renews all of the air inside the trains every nine minutes or so.
Experts want to be reassuring
“We must stop asking too many questions otherwise we will not be able to do anything at all, slice the infectious disease specialist François Bricaire. Knowing that you cannot open the windows in a TGV to ventilate, you just have to respect the barrier gestures and wear your mask. “
However, would new measures reassure travelers? Very favorable to the installation of CO2 sensors in the classrooms, which made it possible, according to him, “to point out the problem of the quality of the air in confined spaces”, the professor of environmental health Olivier Blond estimates that these sensors are of little interest inside TGVs, because you cannot then open the windows if the sensor shows that “the air is not sufficiently renewed”. According to this specialist, “the challenge for trains is to install efficient filters in the ventilation ducts”.
The SNCF defends itself by arguing that the air inside the trains is already of good quality: “It constantly undergoes a treatment which makes it possible to reduce the rate of viral particles diffused by aerosolization. “
Travelers who are not masked enough?
In its report, the Rhône labor inspectorate points to “the lack of traceability of the disinfection carried out on board” and poor travelers who wear their masks badly or not at all. The SNCF, for its part, highlights that “stations and trains were among the first places where wearing a mask was made compulsory, since the first deconfinement, on May 11, 2020”. Above all, “the controllers watch” and the recalcitrant mask would not be so numerous, assures the company, which recalls that “the wearing of the mask is respected by more than 95% of the travelers, which has been proven”.
Move along, there’s nothing to see !
The Minister Delegate for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, has also invested in extinguishing the incipient fire: “The figures that we now have for more than a year and a half show that public transport is not a place. priority propagation. It’s true, the air does even better than the rail, since planes, unlike TGVs, are equipped with high performance filters. “But these devices are not linked to the Covid, simply to the constraints of the pressurization of the cabin”, slips … an executive of the SNCF.