There is a petition currently under way, seeking to put an end to the fixed penalty fine of EUR150 which is increasingly being levied on bassists travelling on trains in France with their instruments, perhaps part of a broader trend to curtail rights…. Here, bassist Théo Girard tells us about his personal experience:
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Théo Girard writes: I’m a French double bass player. So my experience of travelling by train with my instrument is limited to France. I don’t know whether similar conditions prevail in other countries, but things here have been becoming much more difficult recently.
Of course, there are tricks we can use, whether on the “TGV”, the “Intercité” or the “TER”. There are good spots on trains we can go with our instruments, but unfortunately these are often taken when trains get busy. I have made hundreds of journeys without problems. After all, we double bassists know how we can make ourselves very small and invisible when it is necessary.
But there have alsobeen innumerable times when I have had to leave my seat on the train to go to the end of the carriage, just to make sure my instrument isn’t either becoming an obstruction, always with the fear that it might have taken a bash.
I’ve even spent one four-hour journey on a stool in the restaurant car : it was the only place where the conductor would allow me to put my double bass – at a time when there were plenty of empty seats in first class….
But what I am hearing is that conditions are getting much tougher right now. That fines are being imposed more often, and that bassists are being refused permission to board trains…
Whatever they say, trains are normally pleasant and clean here in France. They are still a reliable mode of transport, but I do have to admit that sometimes I have been tempted to leave my own bass at home, and to take a chance with a hired or borrowed instrument, rather than having to suffer the strains and the stresses of travelling with my own instrument.
Please support the petition
LINK: Change.org Petition