Gares & Connexions, the branch of the SNCF in charge of stations, is in "
a financial impasse which calls for a reaction from the State
", estimates the Court of Auditors in a report published Tuesday.
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The service offer of Gares & Connexions, a subsidiary of SNCF Réseau since early 2020, "
would benefit from being better defined, and the quality of the service provided improved
", judges the Court, citing "
indicators limited in number and sometimes not very relevant in their definition, (of) objectives which are still not very restrictive and (...) a system of financial incentives whose effects remain weak
An inefficient royalty system
SNCF Gares & Connexions derives its income from fees paid by railway companies, mainly SNCF Voyageurs, and from commercial concessions.
In principle, this economic model should allow the company to cover its operating costs and generate an operating margin to finance station investments.
However, it suffers from several weaknesses which hinder its effectiveness
”, point out the wise men of the rue Cambon.
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The fee system is opaque, unequal and too favorable to carriers, while Gares & Connexions' limited financial leeway prevents it from fully investing, they believe.
And, they add, when the company allies itself with private promoters, it is the latter who capture “
a large part of the value generated by the projects
Hence the need to improve performance "in order
to offer the best service to carriers and travelers at the best price
", they underline: "
Gares & Connexions will have to convince its interlocutors that it remains the best able to manage stations
”, including those which could be transferred to the regions.
Necessary state subsidies
The Court of Auditors recommends at the same time a reform of the fee system "
to improve the self-financing capacity
" of the station manager.
Above all, it calls for an increase in State subsidies, in particular for the maintenance of historic buildings, especially since the needs have increased more than the resources with the integration last year of the quays, footbridges and large passenger halls previously. managed by SNCF Réseau.
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Today, the State does not support the financing of bonds for which it is nevertheless responsible, for a heritage which belongs to it and of which Gares & Connexions is only affected,
” she believes. “
The issue of financing station investments must also be part of a reflection by all stakeholders on the future of stations and their development
in their environment,” she adds.