If your SNCF train is canceled, you’re not alone!

This weekend, I received an email at around 6 pm Sunday saying that my Monday morning SNCF train from Bordeaux to Toulouse was canceled:

Chère cliente, cher client,
Vous avez prévu de voyager avec SNCF le 30/07/2018 sur le train 8501 au départ de BORDEAUX ST JEAN et à destination de TOULOUSE MATABIAU.
Nous vous informons qu’en raison d’un incendie dans un poste électrique RTE, filiale d’EDF, votre train ne circulera pas.
Nous vous invitons, dans la mesure du possible, à reporter votre voyage.
Pour consulter l’état des circulations en temps réel, rendez-vous sur horaires.sncf.com ou l’application mobile SNCF.
En voyageant avec TGV et INTERCITES, pour tout parcours en France, vous bénéficiez de LA GARANTIE VOYAGE dont les conditions d’application spécifiques sont notamment consultables sur sncf.com.
SNCF vous remercie de votre compréhension.
Dear customer,
Regarding your travel booking with SNCF on 30/07/2018 on train 8501 from BORDEAUX ST JEAN to TOULOUSE MATABIAU.
We regret to inform you that your train has been cancelled due to production problems.
Find out details about how our services are running on:
SNCF.com website under the timetables and live traffic updates section
SNCF mobile app
By calling +33 892 35 35 35 (cost of international call + fees of your phone operator) or at your original selling point
If you’ve already changed or cancelled your booking, please disregard this message.
Thank you for your understanding

Oh noooo was my first thought. Having previously lived through the French train strikes where I was forced to buy a plane ticket for a day-long train ride from Biarritz to Marseille, I expected the worst.

My train wasn’t canceled due to strikes, however. This train was canceled due to an electrical failure. I happened to be staying near the train station, so I headed over there to see what I could do. While the Billetterie was closed, I found an SNCF employee near a standing desk, who told me I could board any other train that day with my ticket.

Great! I thought, at least I wouldn’t be stranded. But then I realized, how would I get a seat? I had reserved in first class, a solo seat, facing the direction of travel – my favorite! I typically like to write while on these trains (like I’m writing this article now), so not having a seat or having to change seats because someone gets on at a station in between, isn’t ideal.

I looked up other trains to Toulouse on my phone. It seemed that the previous and next train to Bordeaux was running just fine, so I’d likely be able to get on one of those, in the worst case.

The following morning, I went to the train station about one hour before the train I wanted to take would depart. There was quite a long line, despite it being 7 AM, but I took a number and waited about 25 minutes until I was helped.

I overheard the woman ahead of me complaining that SNCF could not exchange her ticket and started to panic thinking I’d be in the same situation!

Alas, when I spoke with the SNCF agent, she happily exchanged my ticket for the train I wanted (departing 30 minutes before my originally scheduled train), and even gave me the same style seat I had originally purchased: first class, solo seat.

As much as I love the benefits of train travel, I occasionally run into mishaps like this one.

Here is what to do if your train is canceled by SNCF.

What to Do

If your SNCF train is canceled in France, you have a few options:

  1. Rebook: You can rebook your ticket on another train, free of charge, subject to availability. You can do this online through the SNCF website or mobile app, or at a train station or SNCF boutique.
  2. Refund: If you choose not to travel or cannot find an alternative train, you can request a refund for your ticket. You can do this online through the SNCF website or mobile app, or at a train station or SNCF boutique.
  3. Compensation: If your train was canceled due to reasons within SNCF’s control (such as a strike or technical issue), you may be entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation depends on the length of the delay and the type of ticket you have. You can submit a claim for compensation through the SNCF website or mobile app.

Keep in mind that if your train is canceled, there may be many other passengers also trying to rebook or get a refund. This could lead to long wait times or crowded conditions at train stations or SNCF boutiques.

In summary, if your SNCF train is canceled:

  1. Don’t panic!
  2. Look up the other trains to see if there is one before or after that you can take
  3. Head to your nearest train station to discuss options or call the SNCF.
  4. If you’re not near a train station, then arrive at least 1 hour before your intended departure so you can exchange the ticket and get another seat.

Happy train travels!

What to Do When Your SNCF Train is Canceled

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