In a scene straight out of films from the American Wild West, masked men stole a freight train on Thursday night in southern France after blocking the train tracks with shopping carts and metal beams.
The audacious assault on the outskirts of Marseille, southern France, hampered first ride a passenger express train that served as a brake on a convoy of goods going back.
"The assaults on trains are not new, but it is a very rare phenomenon," said David-Olivier Reverdy, a police officer in the area.
"It is worthy of the attacks on the proceedings in the Wild West," he said.
About 20 robbers looted several cars and then disappeared into the darkness. It was unclear what they took.
Nobody was injured in the attack but said the thieves Reverdy had endangered the lives of people.
The rail union said in a statement that while these attacks were unusual theft on Thursday was a sign that the railway officials were not investing enough in security of their facilities.