At a time when we are all thinking about how we can reduce our touring carbon footprint and considering travelling across France by train, if you have a large instrument then it might be easier to go by car.
The most recent meeting of the International Federation of Musicians Europe group revealed that the MU in France – SNAM, have been in talks with French train company SNCF regarding the ban they have placed on musicians travelling on their fast TGV trains with large instruments. This, say SNCF, is due to their trains not being big enough to accommodate such instruments, however our colleagues in SNAM are disputing this.
Musicians with large instruments advised to avoid TGV trains
The French national train company, SNCF does not allow oversize instruments (up to 130 cm x 90 cm), such as double basses, harps, tubas, etc., in their fast trains (TGV). Musicians holding valid tickets with their instruments have been fined or even expelled or barred from entering trains.
The French musicians’ union SNAM has been negotiating with SNCF to find a reasonable solution (including paying extra room), but SNCF are sticking to their guns. SNAM is currently leading a campaign of protest. However, as long as the situation remains, foreign musicians travelling to France with these instruments are advised to avoid TGV trains.
Not all trains have the same level of restrictions and enforcement
If you are planning to visit or tour France by train, then be sure to check on the current situation. There are other train companies, and we are told that non–TGV trains are not subject to the same strict level of restrictions and enforcement.
However, levels of enforcement across the other train companies do vary, but it is generally problematic for all rail operators across France accommodating musicians with large instruments.
We will keep members updated on any progress.