Paris Hundreds of thousands of French commuters and regional travelers faced cancellations or delays on Tuesday after hundreds of electrical cables in the Paris rail network were deliberately set on fire, according to French rail authorities. .
The Gare de l’Est in Paris was the hardest hit and was mostly closed for the day. The station serves the eastern suburbs of the French capital, connecting Paris with towns and cities in eastern France and neighboring countries, with hundreds of thousands of people traveling daily.
France’s national railway company, SNCF, said an employee spotted the fire early Tuesday morning and raised the alarm.
The company initially thought it was an accidental fire and that the outage would last only a few hours, but then a cluster of cables that power signals throughout the Paris rail network were deliberately targeted. It became clear that
A police vandalism investigation was underway. Investigators say vandals breached the protective casing and set fire to bundles of cables, damaging some 600 cables in all.
By Tuesday afternoon, the SNCF had warned that damage and disruption from the fire was so severe that normal services might not be restored on Wednesday.
At the East Station, passengers were wandering around, not knowing how to plan their next trip. Departures boards showed high-speed TGV trains to the eastern cities of Strasbourg and Reims, with all destinations in Germany and Luxembourg canceled.
Regional trains from the station were also canceled, and commuter lines to the eastern suburbs of Paris were halted.
French Transport Minister Clément Beaune told reporters it was a “scandalous act of vandalism” and should be punished “severely”.
He said investigators had found traces of gasoline at “two key points” at the scene of the fire.
Beaune said the incident was “very unusual and very serious”.
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