Last stop before Paris

This is the main railway station in Saarbrücken, Germany, located about five km from the French border and eight km from Forbach, the first town on the French side.

As of August 2020, there are three direct trains per day from Saarbrücken to Paris, two German ICEs and one French TGV, but this is still a reduced schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the height of the corona lockdown, in March through May 2020, there was only one train per day in each direction.

Most of these ICE (InterCityExpress) and TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) trains run non-stop between Saarbrücken and Paris. Currently only one per day has a scheduled stop in Forbach. The travel time between Saarbrücken and Paris is typically 1 hour 51 minutes.

In a EuroCity train to Paris, 2006

Until 2007 the trains from Saarbrücken to Paris were EuroCity trains, consisting of traditional railway cars coupled together and pulled by an electric locomotive. These were gradually phased out in 2007-2008 with the opening of the new French high-speed line TGV Est Europeen.

For the first year or two of the transition there were serious compatibility problems, arising from the fact that the German ICE trains needed transformers to run on the French electrical system. The first transformers were too weak for the job and kept overheating. I personally was on three of these ICE trains in 2007/2008 when they broke down and were unable to complete the run to or from Paris.

Changing trains in Forbach, 2008

Once our German ICE had just crossed the border into France when it stopped in Forbach and we all had to get off and take an extremely overcrowded regional train to Metz.

Another time we had to get off our ICE train in Saarbrücken and get on an identical-looking ICE on the other side of the platform, the difference being that the second one had a transformer and the first didn’t.

Eventually the problem was solved, however, and since about 2009 the ICE trains have been making the run to and from Paris without any serious complications that I know of.

In an ICE train to Paris, 2013

My photos in this post are from 2006, 2008 and 2013. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on Saarbrücken, Germany.
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