June 2022



Dear DB & SNCF,

Ok, so my train from Frankfurt to Paris-Est (ICE 9556) is running approximately 22 minutes late.

I could be upset about this, or the fact that I had to cross platforms at Saarbrücken to board a different train set because of a “technical fault” with my train, but I am not.

However, I am pissed off that the male conductor (dressed in the French SNCF uniform) onboard this train casually went up to the rear driver’s compartment (wagon 21), walked in, turned on the frosted glass, and then did something I was quick to identify: smoke a cigarette.

When he emerged, a few moments later, just before the train pulled into Kaiserslautern, I stopped him and said that it smelled like something was on fire, and he admitted that he had been smoking in the driver’s compartment. I pointed out that the end room I was in had signs clearly indicating that it was a nonsmoking compartment.

Apparently he felt that since he was on the other side of the frosted glass he could smoke to his hearts content—meanwhile I suffered the consequences.

Not to be too supportive of stereotypes, but I suspect this is pretty typical of the French train employees: the rules are for minions, he could smoke in the driver’s compartment to his hearts content. I have never seen a DB train conductor smoking on the train—rather I seem them smoking when the train makes an extended stop.

I’m sure there are openings on some local service somewhere that could benefit from his high quality services—one thing is for sure, an employee like him shouldn’t be on a high profile International ICE service.

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