SNCF is taking a new step in the deployment of its low-cost trains.
After the high-speed Ouigo launched in France in 2013, then in Spain in May 2021, it is the classic lines that the railway company intends to tackle in spring 2022. It has just announced it to the press, to the social partners and to elected officials this Thursday morning.
"Our objective is to increase the share of rail by taking market share from road, because road is the only one currently aimed at those who have time and not a lot of money", displays Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs.
Two lines will be open: Paris-Lyon and Paris-Nantes, which will serve 14 cities in all, at fixed times every day. The two daily round trips between Paris and Lyon in Corail will take between 4:45 and 5:15 am, compared to 2 hours by TGV. In Nantes, the journey time will be between 3:30 and 4:15 (2:05 by TGV). Tickets will be sold between 10 and 30 euros, exclusively on the Internet. “From the opening of sales, 45 days before departure, the price will be fixed, promises Stéphane Rapebach, general manager of Ouigo. High-speed Ouigo are marketed nine months in advance. This will allow us to complete our low-cost offer at the last minute. "
If the company can afford to charge such prices, while aiming for profitability, it is because it takes the revenues from low-cost in general and from Ouigo in particular: "the optimization of equipment rotation, a limited fleet and limited maintenance, which allow us to reduce costs by around 30%, ”explains Cécile Boucaut, the new director of Oslo, the SNCF Voyageurs subsidiary specially created for these Ouigo lines at conventional speed.
Redecorated in the colors of Ouigo, but reversed with the pink livery and the blue logo, the trains will be made up of old, refreshed Corail trainsets, the very ones that the Regions have abandoned in recent years in favor of more connected cars.
Eight renovated coaches per train will transport 640 passengers up to 160 km / h in a single second class, without plug or wi-fi, but with spaces for bicycles and a possibility of “snacking”.
Objective: 1.2 million travelers per year
Socially too, the SNCF is taking a new step. "We went a step further by having certain missions traditionally carried out by ground agents carried out by the staff on board, such as hooking the motor
to the car," notes Cécile Boucaut. 80 people, including 70 drivers and crew members will join the Oslo subsidiary. "These will be volunteers SNCF railway workers, as part of a provision, supplemented by external hires if necessary," says the director, who wants to be confident. “We already have about fifty candidates today. "
Stuck between faster TGVs and TERs that serve more stations, will these new low-cost trains find their audience, even as the German Flixbus threw in the towel on a similar project in April 2020, judging that his studies in France were inconclusive? "We do not think the same and we will occupy this place, says Stéphane Rapebach. We want to become the benchmark for low-cost railways regardless of distance or speed. "
Oslo's stated goal is to reach 1.2 million travelers per year within two years.
Without cannibalizing other SNCF trains?
“As we did with Ouigo, we want to find new customers, announces its general manager.
One in two are.
“It was also on two of the busiest road links in France that Oslo was first positioned.
Before expanding the service?
"We will make an economic assessment in two years, slice Christophe Fanichet.
It's a bet.
If we have to stop it, we'll stop it.
But we are convinced, given the current market, that there is a segment.
And maybe like the Ouigo, we will eventually go from 2 to 41 destinations… ”