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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

French rail SNCF sorry for 'racist' alert on Romanians

SNCF note, courtesy of www.Rue89.com
Rail bosses said they "neither endorsed nor supported" the note

French national rail operator SNCF has apologised for a note that singled out Romanians over baggage thefts and triggered accusations of xenophobia.

The note asked employees to bring "all activities of Romanians" to the attention of rail security services.

The note was distributed at the end of January in the Midi-Pyrenees region.

SNCF said the note was a "regrettable individual initiative" and had been recalled as soon as regional train officials learnt about it.

An SNCF spokesperson told the BBC that the official responsible for the note had been summoned along with their superiors, and had been reminded of the "obligations and culture of the SNCF".

She said the matter was being dealt with internally.

'Racist'

The note was published on the French news site Rue89 after one of their contributors noticed it on a local train on 1 February.

It read: "In the last few weeks concerns have arisen about Romanians. Indeed, numerous baggage thefts have been noticed.

"We ask you to redouble your vigilance. In addition, all the activities of Romanians should be brought to the attention of the PCNS [rail security services]."

The Sud-Rail trade union was quoted by local media as denouncing the note as "racist".

"These ideas, in a general context in which xenophobia and the stigmatisation of immigrants is becoming more intolerable each day, have to be condemned in the strongest manner," the union said.

SNCF issued a statement on Tuesday saying the note had been intended to draw attention to "an increase in thefts committed on certain trains".

It apologised for the note, saying it had been drawn up in a way that the company "neither endorsed nor supported", adding that the duty of SNCF staff was to protect goods and persons "without distinction of origin, social class or nationality".



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