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Thalys issues apology for recent service incidents, including collision with animal and fire
After an unprecedented series of incidents affecting Thalys trains in recent weeks, chief executive Jacques Damas issued an apology to customers via email, report local media.
“This is certainly not the level of service we want to offer our customers,” he wrote.
Travellers of Thalys trains have faced a number of issues over the past weeks that sometimes resulted in massive delays and inconvenience.
These included excessive heat, a fire near the tracks and a collision with an animal.
“Even though the causes are beyond our control, we must ensure that these incidents have as little impact as possible on you, the traveller,” said Damas, conceding that Thalys “was not strong enough to cope with the intensity and the accumulation of disruptions.”
Thayls had first tried reducing its capacity after two trains broke down in the span of just one week during the July heatwave. But not long afterwards, travellers returning from France were stuck on the tracks overnight near Tournai when their train hit an animal.
While some travellers were offered the option of walking to a hotel and using a voucher, those who stepped off the train, discovered the hotel was already full. Passengers who chose to remain on board spent the night without air conditioning or electricity.
Following these disruptions, Thalys cut its timetable and drew up an “extensive maintenance plan” for its trains, and the most severely affected passengers were offered “more generous compensation,” according to the company.
“We are taking fundamental measures to improve our crisis management processes,” its chief executive said.
Thalys operates in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Together with the British company Eurostar, the company was recently absorbed into the Belgium-based Eurostar Group, whose shareholders include Belgian railway company SNCB (18.5% share).
Over time, the Thalys brand name will be phased out.