It will sadden Thibault of Simply Railway but push-pull trains are losing ground to EMU’s (automotive trains). Danny and I were happy to still be able to experience Corail coaches from Bordeaux-Saint-Jean to Marseille-Saint-Charles in France.
The Corail is an amalgam of comfort and rail. The coaches were designed in 1974 but have been refurbished.
The route is long and crosses South West France. The Intercités 4661 departs from Bordeaux-Saint-Jean and calls at Agen, Montauban-Ville-Bourbon, Toulouse-Matabiau, Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers, Sète, Montpellier-Saint-Roche, Nîmes (Centre), Arles and terminates at Marseille-Saint-Charles. The journey is scheduled to take 6h32.
The comfort in Corail?
In second class where we sat seats are in an 2+2 or an odd 3+1 configuration. The main colour is blue with grey. I love how SNCF stays away from the grey + white + red liveries of colleagues in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
So how comfortable are Corail coaches? They do allright. Legroom is okay, the cushion is okay. I was unfortunate to be seated at a side panel. As a result I had less space for my shoulder and right arm. In a 6h32-long journey, that is annoying.
Also the coach moves about a lot. Walking through the aisle is difficult, even for an experienced train walker like me.
There is a catering cart but it’s advised to buy something in advance. Also: reserve your seat in advance.
There is a power outlet.
Some features were intriguing
- A toddler’s playroom;
- Gendered toilets;
- A triple set of tablets at your seat,
- An area for push-chairs;
- A power outlet especially to warm milk bottles;
- An information point.
The future consists of EMU’s. SNCF ordered Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) from Spain a minimum of 75 trains. They will also be used between Bordeaux and Marseille.
We’ll have to test them.