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Monday, 23 May 2011

Hot air balloon causes train delays in western France

Now that's not the sort of headline you see every day - not even here in France.

Trains were delayed on the TGV line between Nantes in western France and Paris for the best part of Saturday morning.

Not so unusual, you might be thinking, given French national railways' (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français, SNCF) track (ouch) record.

But this disruption wasn't down to industrial action, the weather or even suspected sabotage.

(screenshot - France 3 television news report)

Instead it occurred after a hot air balloon hit an overhead power line.

The balloon was one of several, according to the regional daily Ouest-France, that had taken off early on Saturday morning from Oudon, 30 kilometres east of Nantes.

It belonged to Nantes Montgolfières, which describes its flights over the Loire valley as "unforgettable".

An apt description indeed - not so much for the journey the eight passengers and one pilot undertook - but the landing they experienced just as they were about to touch down in a field.

Apparently, caught off guard by a stronger-than-expected wind, the pilot wasn't able to prevent the balloon's fabric from becoming entangled with a nearby 25,000 volt overhead power line.

"There could have serious consequences," Captain Patrice Bongibault, a high-ranking police officer told regional France 3 television news.

"But only two of the passengers were slightly injured."

(source - Wikipedia)

And that was a point stressed by the director of Nantes Montgolfières, Géry Liagre.

"We take thousands of people into the air over the Loire Valley and such an incident is very rare," he said.

"Of course it shouldn't have happened, but nobody was seriously injured and in fact there was nothing dramatic: we just disrupted SNCF for a couple of hours."

Oh well that's all right then.

And anyway, train passengers are used to experiencing delays for one reason or another.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fright the passengers of the balloon must have had!

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