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Motorail

York, England
5 posts
Motorail

Can anyone give up to date information on the French motorail service? Comments on the web a few years ago were mostly negative. Some discussion on this site last year suggested things may have improved. I am considering travelling from Narbonne to Calais on a Saturday in August and wonder if any one has comments on cleanliness and comfort of the train, care taken over loading and unloading cars, security of the cabins from thieves etc.

Albufeira, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Level Contributor
57,826 posts
41 reviews
1. Re: Motorail

Unfortunately for your plan, the Autotrain now ends its run at Lille (Seclin); Calais is no longer served.

I noticed this while doing some enforced 'train spotting' while at Narbonne a couple of weeks ago.

Confirmed by the Guide Auto-train Ete 2008 available through the SNCF website.

I have never used the service - others must comment there! Interestingly, I note that for the Narbonne/Lille run there are suggestions of 'trains for passengers', which I take to mean that your car travels on one train and you on another.

Also, SNCF declines all responsibility etc etc...

Guildford, England
Level Contributor
6,062 posts
16 reviews
2. Re: Motorail

The previous poster is a little confused and talking about the French Autotrain which does indeed go to Lille but of course Motorail still continues to run to Calais from Narbonne. It was a few years ago now that Motorail broke away from SNCF and started to run the trains themselves.

I'm sorry my last trip was in 2004 :( but I had taken Mororail every year since 1987 until then. Personally I never had any problems and found the benefits far out-weighed the negatives. Kids up to teens always seemed to love it.

Albufeira, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Level Contributor
57,826 posts
41 reviews
3. Re: Motorail

My apologies for confusion caused! It's just that there were big notices concerning changes to train times around Narbonne, owing to the dreaded 'essential engineering works' but nowhere did I see a mention of the Motorail service. Presumably, as it is not an SNCF service, they have no reason to inform anyone of alterations.

York, England
5 posts
4. Re: Motorail

Thank you both for your comments. It's a close call whether to use it or not, and the more info. I have the easier it is to make the decision, so thanks.

Beverley, United...
Level Contributor
188 posts
114 reviews
5. Re: Motorail

Beware of booking Motorail!! The first time we used it about 5 years ago they threatened strike action so we changed our ferry so we arrived in Zeebrugge (from Hull) early morning so we had all day to travel down to the south of France. In that instance they did not go on strike and we were OK. Service was good and it was a great way to arrive. Last year was a different story. We were in Nice and received a call on the Thursday pm to say there was no train on Saturday evening to take us to Calais - they were on strike!! We had to leave Nice a day early and drive all the way to Calais, staying in a couple of B&B's on the way. It totally spoiled our holiday and we would never book them again. If you try to find their track record with strikes it's impossible.

York, England
5 posts
6. Re: Motorail

Thanks. We have in fact decided to do it by car, mostly because of cost. It's a shame that it's so expensive as train is much more eco friendly. But the possibility of strike action also makes it a bit of a gamble, I guess.

Leeds
Level Contributor
53 posts
172 reviews
7. Re: Motorail

We travelled on the Calais/Narbonne motorail/autotrain service in August 2008. Sadly this is very much a third class service. On the plus side, the staf who are mainly young students try hard and are friendly and cheerful and helpful. But on the negative side, where do I start...

This appears to be a private service with stock hired from SNCF French Railways. The stock is old. I never thought you could see the sleepers down the pan of a western european train any more. The compartments were not cleaned well. We found mouldy half eaten pizzas in boxes on the top bunk. Whenever the train arrives at the destination you can expect to be served 'breakfast' in the station. Despite the scheduled arrival this always seems to catch the staff off guard so the breakfast arives late, piecemeal and after all it is only bread butter and jam. The knives to spread the butter never arrived on our return journey. Also coming home we were told the whole carriage was switched to another carriage further down the train but no one thought of moving the bedding; the passengers had to do this.

My advice to the service operators is to try the Dutch or German autotrain services which are infitinely more superior with onboard catering (you'll only get an overpriced drink on this one).

This service fulfils a need, but its definitely third class only provided.

8. Re: Motorail

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