Just imagine how busy this upcoming weekend is going to be. In addition to the Monaco Grand Prix, the weekend attracts festival-goers for the end-of-festival celebrations in Cannes, attracts swarms of cruise ship passengers, and the customers for the Ventimiglia Market on Friday. Not to mention the big Nice-Monaco football derby on the evening of May 24th.
You could call it a perfect storm if you are responsible for managing transport in the area into and out of Monaco. And it is mostly to the trains we look to to seamlessly accommodate everyone who wants to travel and enjoy all these great events.
SNCF is focused on arranging to transport over 150,000 revellers during the four days of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Undoubtedly taking the train will be the fastest and cheapest alternative in and out of Monaco (round trip Nice-Ville – Monaco € 8.10 and definitely it is best to buy your ticket in advance). To avoid hours of potential traffic jams and parking problems, the train offers a far more tranquil experience. That means from the SNCF side a full and general mobilization – ruthless efficiency flawlessly executed over four days is the motto.
Do you want to know how many trains will be needed on May 25th and 26th, the weekend of the Grand Prix? First SNCF puts on those of a normal weekday, and then has to add up to 16 special extra trains to or from Monaco.
For example, on the day of the race, from 8 am to 1 pm, 23 trains run compared to 12 trains on a normal Sunday (ie a train every 10 minutes or so). From 5pm to 9pm 16 trains are assured for the return of travellers compared to 11 trains on a typical Sunday.
And how many agents would you bet they will need on duty in Nice to pull that off?
Believe it or not it will take in the order of about fifty agents. Everything has to be thought through and staffed including reception, sales, controllers, drivers, maintenance of equipment and general surveillance – and that also means training extra volunteers wearing Red Vests to provide tourists with information. It’s a small army that has to come together and mobilize every morning to ensure a smooth departure. In Monaco, every evening, for the return of the fans after the Grand Prix the same challenge awaits.
May 25 and 26 rank as the two most intense days of the year. And to make sure all those Agents world in harmony and unison servicing all those extra trains it takes “organization”.
With readiness in mind it would have taken well over twenty employees of SNCF to gather around the table in April just to fine-tune their approach to servicing what is in 2019 the 90th anniversary of the Grand Prix of Monaco. There will have been good and bad news to deal with. It is always that way in life with events of this scale.
In Nice, for example, the good news is that the station itself is unencumbered by the usual renovation works – which frees up the whole forecourt to accommodate the crowds of passengers.
Double trains accommodating 2,000 passengers will have to be part of the core service.
On Saturday and Sunday, in Nice Station, dedicating “Grand Prix lines” will mean organizing about a dozen people very early in the morning to set up all the banners and barriers to route the passengers. Then there will have to be a way of encouraging the cruise ships’ passengers debarking in Villefranche to take the train rather than clog the roads.
When the Grand Prix ends it is just the “beginning of the end” of the thousands of passengers heading to the trains.
How to keep happy hordes patient and in a good mood when at the end of car races, the access time to the station is estimated between 45 minutes and one hour?
Make Your Life Easier
For travellers, make your life easier, avoid the roads and definitely it is advisable to buy your train tickets in advance.
And be a little patient after the race. Your turn to mount the train will come – as sure as night follows day.