Scarcity of trains, lack of services and transport links via the tram, buses crowded, access, bottled, matches impossible: the second TGV station of Montpellier, opened on July 7 at 6 km from the city centre, was “the fiasco of the summer” for many travellers frustrated.
In the meantime, at best, by 2020, the realization of the second TGV station also disputed Nimes-Manduel (Gard), only six passenger trains stopped daily in the new railway station, Montpellier-Sud-de-France, which has cost some 135 million euros.
A no man’s land
What people are discovering on their arrival in the middle of a no-man’s-land intended eventually to become a new district in a desperate one and fed the letters of the summer.
“Such contempt for the travellers, I can’t believe it !”, enrage Hilda Fessenmeyer, a tourist, a German sexagenarian wandering in vain in the lobby in search of information. Travelling in from Paris with his elderly mother, she thought to get to the centre of Montpellier and can be found “really in trouble”.
“Where here? On the Moon? There is no human, not even of what to take a coffee?”, lamenting his side Claudia Jimenez, a young Spanish student, arrived well in advance, in a train station deserted after being “ruined” to take a taxi.
In the midst of a backdrop of vacant lots, this station “ghost”, “useless”, according to its critics, has no office, no ticket machine, bank, beverages or snacks. The point of information is often closed. Its trade only, open from 09: 30 to 16: 30, is a tiny kiosk selling drinks and snacks, stormed before the departure of each train.
A political conflict
In the peak period, between 15: 00 and 17: 00, the situation quickly becomes chaotic inside and the outside of the train station: the single, narrow access road is saturated and paralyzed in both directions, the parking and the small drop-minute also. A concert of horns does not take long to ring while travellers begin to run frantically in all directions with their luggage.
Some go so far as to make a sprint through the fields by dragging their luggage on wheels to catch their train. This is the case of Sarah Dejean, a héraultaise the age of 24. “This is the fiasco of the summer at this station !”, exclaims the young woman, her face flushed with anger and exertion.
Among those who arrive by train, there are the savvy, as Stephanie Gély, a thirty-year-old, who is returning to Béziers, with his two little girls and three suitcases and rushes towards one of the few shuttles that reach the tram stop to reach St. Roch, the train station in the city centre. “I know there are a few buses, you have to hurry otherwise we will miss our match!”, she said in the middle of the chaos indescribable of a weekend back-to-school. For those who don’t know, like Ann James, a tourist from middle-aged british landed for the first time in the region, reach the centre of the city can soon turn to calvary: “two hours to get to our hotel, welcome to Montpellier!”, quips she.
At the heart of a conflict between the mayor and president of the metropolis of Montpellier, Philippe Saurel (KVD, support of Emmanuel Macron) and the president socialist of the region of Occitania, Carole Delga, who has frozen the regional funding of this project from 2016, the second TGV station of Montpellier has been of controversy since the very beginning of the project.
The new equipment is much maligned, has not been inaugurated, and the minister of Transport Elizabeth Terminal has avoided during his recent arrival in Montpellier. In the Face of failures and exasperation, Mr. Saurel has announced that the access arrangements would be quickly reviewed, in agreement with the SNCF and the State. This should further weigh down the bill, while opponents of the station have denounced already a “mismanagement” and the extension of the tram to Montpellier-Sud-de-France, expected the best in 2021, representing 40 million euros of additional expenditure.
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