It is " a summer like no other " that the French railway company is about to experience. Even if reservations have gone up again in recent weeks, in particular thanks to 100% exchangeable and refundable tickets, the coronavirus crisis still leaves traces.
Between 30 and 50% of travelers are missing
Faced with the uncertainty of the holidays and the maintenance of health standards, the French remain cautious to book their train journeys. TGVs are currently only 50% filled in July and only 35% in August. Even at weekends, 20% of seats remain vacant despite the lifting of the restriction of “ one seat in two occupied ”.
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The SNCF expects only 20 million passengers this summer against 25 million the other years. Since mid-March, the SNCF has lost 4 billion euros, half of which due to TGV traffic lines has been reduced to 7%. However, Christophe Fanichet, president of SNCF Voyageurs is optimistic. " There will be no tariff increase in 2020, whether on TGV, Intercités, OUIGO or TER, " he said on July 3 on France Info. To save the season and " allow all French people to go on vacation by train ", the president is counting on the strategy of low prices.
5 million inexpensive tickets
An escapade to Marseille for around thirty euros, an unlimited TER pass for one month for 29 euros or even 10-euro tickets to travel to its region, the SNCF is increasing the number of offers to keep its travelers coming back. 5 million journeys at low prices including 2 million TER journeys have been put on the market. " The TER network will play an important role this summer to allow French people to visit their region and their heritage, " said SNCF.
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SNCF also takes care of security to reassure its travelers. " The trains are washed all summer, the cleaning team has increased threefold, " says the company, the communications manager. Wearing a mask is compulsory upon entering the station and during the entire journey. " That also reassures the traveler, " he adds. For the president of SNCF Voyageurs, this rule is 95% respected. Few incidents have been reported and " the French must continue this effort, which is essential to reduce the circulation of the epidemic ".
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Finally, to find all its travelers, the SNCF wishes to reconnect with all of its services. One day before the first holidays, the Junior and company service, which allows 50,000 children to take the train without their parents every summer, is again available. The wagons-bars also make their return for July 4 and from the 3 for the night trains, with some necessary modifications to respect sanitary standards.
With all these efforts, the railway company hopes to fill its seats again and help the French to go on vacation " because they really need it, " concludes Christophe Fanichet, president of SNCF Voyageurs.