The Intercity train from Paris to Rouen was stuck in the Roule tunnel between Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray and Gaillon with 800 passengers on board.
Firemen, police and SNCF personnel were involved in the rescue operation. â€˜People have remained calm. SNCF sent a train into the tunnel to pick up some passengers at 10.15 and it left in the direction of Rouen an hour later,â€™ said a spokesman for the Eure prefecture.
â€˜A second rescue train was also sent and by midday everyone was safely off the broken down train. But the rail line will remain out of order until the train can be removed,â€™ he added.
However, some passengers expressed anger that it took three hours for the rescue train to be sent. â€˜We broke down just after seven this morning but it was after 10 before the train arrived to take us away,â€™ said one man arriving at Rouen. â€˜Everything was fairly calm but there was a lot of stress and people were beginning to feel uncomfortable,â€™ he added.
The prefecture confirmed that it received a call to say the train had broken down at 7.15 am. The trainâ€™s pantograph, the piece of equipment that is mounted on the roof of a train to collect power from the overhead electric wires had failed.
â€˜We contacted the Departmental Operations Centre and the gendarmerie was called to dispatch a team to the area. The relief train was sent out by SNCF at 8.20 from Gaillon,â€™ the spokesman explained.
Train services in the region were also disrupted by the overnight storm with trees blocking lines and high winds affecting many routes. In particular trains out of Paris heading to Normandy were subject to delays of up to an hour in the morning. SNCF Haute Normandie also said that a number of local trains were cancelled. Most delays were caused by trees on the lines.