Main lines do not necessarily rhyme with TGV and high prices.
According to the media specialist in transport, Mobilettre, the SNCF plans to run long-distance trains at lower speed but with ridiculous prices.
The historic rail operator would thus consider launching a Paris-Lyon-Marseille next year, then in 2023 a Lyon-Nice, a Paris-Rennes, a Paris-Nantes or a Paris-Bordeaux.
Tickets would be even cheaper than those of Ouigo, low-cost TGVs.
When contacted, the SNCF did not answer our questions on this subject.
This project has never been discussed by the board of directors,
" says Didier Mathis, secretary general of Unsa-rail.
In any case, this approach finds its place in the strategy set out by the CEO of SNCF, Jean-Pierre Farandou, during the presentation of annual results on Wednesday: to increase the number of customers by playing on prices.
This was already the bet made last year to make the French want to take the train again, when public transport was suspected of being a place of Covid-19 contamination.
During the summer of 2020, the SNCF put on sale 1.5 million tickets at low cost, which allowed it to have a customer level equal to 85% to that of the summer of 2019. Rebelote at Christmas last where attendance reached 70% of normal thanks to an incentive pricing policy.
But if customers find their way there, some doubt that SNCF can make money by slashing prices: "
It's a headlong rush, a race for volumes that does not guarantee profitability
", estimates an expert in transport, Yves Crozet.
In order not to be out of pocket, the SNCF nevertheless has a few "tips": for example, it would use old Corail trains for these new tortillards, which cost it nothing.
And the staff would be "housed" in a subsidiary of the SNCF, which would surely make it possible to optimize the working time of the railway workers.
Moreover, the railway group is not the first to have imagined that these long-distance trains, slow but less expensive, could attract a new clientele: the king of Macron coaches, Flixbus, caressed this project last year before. to renounce it in the face of the difficulty of obtaining rolling stock and the uncertainties associated with the economic situation.
Lille-Paris at 10 euros
And, since the beginning of January, the old lady of the railway has been making Lille-Paris by TER on weekends and on public holidays: if the trip lasts 2h10 compared to 1h05 by TGV, the broken price of 10 euros makes you forget the journey time.
This operation is a real success.
These trains are between 80% and 100% full,
”explains Franck Dhersin, vice-president of the Hauts-de-France region.
In the case, the SNCF does not take any risk: it is the local authority which assumes the price differential of the ticket.
It will cost us 800,000 euros over a year,
" said Franck Dhersin.
But if the SNCF offers longer distance trains like the Paris-Lyon-Marseille, it will be at its own risk.
The Regions will not subsidize this kind of service.
It will therefore have to balance this activity only with travelers' revenue.
Another question, "
Will the tired railway network be able to support the circulation of these additional trains, while the return of night trains is also being announced?"
Asks Philippe Tabarot, vice-president of the Paca region, in charge of transport.
These are all questions that SNCF will have to answer before embarking on the adventure of super low-cost long-distance trains.