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France Orders 2,000 Trains Too Wide for Station Platforms

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How do you say ‘epic fail’ in French?

The SNCF, France’s national railway company, announced a baffling -- and costly -- oversight yesterday: it had ordered 2,000 trains for regional transport that turned out to be too wide for station platforms.

The error was due to a miscommunication between the SNCF, which operates the country’s trains, and a separate government entity, the RFF, which maintains railway infrastructure, according to the BBC. While many regional platforms were built over 50 years ago, the RFF only measured stations constructed over the past 30 years.

Construction work to widen the roughly 1,000 station stops is already under way, and has thus far cost the country about $70 million. The trains themselves were purchased for $21 billion.

In response to the stunning derailment, even French government officials were letting off steam. Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier called the mishap "absurd. When you separate the rail operator from the train company," he told the BBC, "this is what happens."

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Geoff Weiss

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Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.