vendredi 6 avril 2007

And no, for once I am not talking about La Poste. I am talking about the SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer- national French train network). Around about, oh, the second week after I started working, they decided to go on strike. No real reason why, or at least no reason that was explained to the disgruntled passengers. The day before they would post a notice saying that they were on strike, but that the following trains would still be in operation.

There are two trains that I can normally take to get to work on time. One leaves at 7:37 and gets to Aubagne at about 7:53, the other that leaves at 7:49 and gets in at 7:59. They said that the 7:37 was canceled, but that the 7:49 was still running, as well as the 8:11 and 8:48. I figured that that would be okay, even if I had to do an all-out sprint to catch the bus. It typically makes a loop through the centre ville and then passes close by the train station before heading out to the industrial area. It usually gives me a five minute margin to sprint to the stop. So I got there a little before 7:49, only to find out that it was canceled. But the 8:11 was still running, which meant I would get to Aubagne in time to catch the 8:40 bus, only being an hour late for work (my second week, woohoo! That could be a record!) So I waited for the 8:11, only to then see a sign that it would be ten minutes late. Okay, can still make it.

Then 8:21 came and went, no train. They then said it was canceled and the next train would be the 8:48. But this is a direct train, so I would get to Aubagne in enough time, if not to catch the bus when it leaves the train station, at least to catch it on the loop. That time came and went, and now I am starting to get nervous that I won’t even make the 9:00 bus. Finally the train came, at 8:51. I figured I could still catch it if it went direct. But nope, it stopped at the three smaller stations (La Pomme, St. Marcel, and La Penne sur Huveane) because of any commuters who needed to go (or leave from) those stops. So I got into Aubagne about 9:10, too late to catch the bus. I called my work and asked if someone could come pick me up with my tail between my legs. One of the guys came and fetched me, so I was a whopping hour and a half late to work. Yikes. That entire week not a day went by that I did not have some problem with the train, either going to work or going home. The other option is to take a bus, which is about a 20 minute walk from our apartment, leaves three times per hour, and takes about 40 minutes. Still no guarantee that you will catch the Aubagne bus on it’s once per hour run though.

The picture above is a pamphlet from the SNCF that I picked up in the middle of strike week.

Basically, it says "With the TER, no more stress!" Yeah!

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