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Chaos at Paris railway station as holidaymakers' trains cancelled

Anxious travellers wait for news of their trains at Paris Montparnasse railway station on Sunday AFP

There was chaos at one of Paris's main railway stations on Sunday as hundreds of holiday-makers found all trains heading for Brittany and the south-west had been cancelled. The SNCF rail company announced a gradual return to normal at midday.

Traffic jams clog the nation's motorways on the last weekend of July, when many French families hed off on holiday, so wise travellers take the train to avoid delays.

But, if their train was due to leave from Montparnasse railway station this Sunday, they were to be disappointed.

All trains, including high-speed TGV's heading for the other end of France, were cancelled because of an electrical failure.

The SNCF rail company sent text messages and emails to customers overnight but that did not stop hundreds turning up at the south Paris station only to find their train was not there waiting for them.

To make matters worse information screens were blank and, despite technicians working all night, the origin of the problem had not been found on Sunday morning.

At about midday the SNCF announced a "very gradual" return to normal but added that many trains would be leaving from other Paris stations for the rest of the day.

Another electrical fault caused disrupted services at Montparnasse station on 17 July.

Storm warning

Meanwhile, road traffic was flowing more freely on Sunday than on the previous day, although monitors warned it would still be fairly heavy.

There were 610 kilometres of traffic jams at 12.15 on Saturday, meaning long delays for many motorists.

They could, however, console themselves with the fact that the figure was lower than last year's 688 kilometres.

Weather forecasters predicted storms, with hail, strong winds and lightning, in central France on Sunday.

The six departments covered by the warning were Ain, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Rhône and Haute-Savoie.

The fires that ravaged much of the south were under control or out on Sunday, with the blaze in Biguglia on the island of Corsica expected to be under control by the evening.