Announced with drums and trumpets, Strasbourg's European Metropolitan Express Network (MEN), commissioned on 11 December 2022, has had a chaotic start. And the social movements during the winter did not help. Five months later, with only 600 more trains, we are far from the 814 additional TER trains planned per week. And there is no longer any question, neither at the SNCF, nor at the Grand Est region and the Eurometropolis which put 14.7 million euros in the operation, of the 1,072 trains planned for the end of August. Worse. For some users, the situation has deteriorated. "On the Sélestat-Strasbourg line, we removed two trains at rush hour, morning and evening, which had existed for fourteen years," laments a regular, recounting her daily galley, "the lack of information in the station" and "these full TER, which are late at each stop..." Green vice-president of the Eurometropolis, in charge of mobility.
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A complex project
A year ago, alerted upstream by the railway unions on "the lack of equipment and drivers", the president of the regional council was concerned about "the ability of the SNCF to meet the deadlines". The objective was to set up scheduled services, from 5:30 a.m. to 22:30 p.m. But the Eurometropolis would have pushed the wheel to offer an alternative to owners of cars banned on January 1, 2023.
Faced with the exasperation of elected officials it now meets every fortnight, the SNCF admitted in January that "the complexity of the project had been underestimated". "The transition from a TER service to a metropolitan express network implies a complete overhaul of the transport plan," explains today the operator which, after audits, has "learned many lessons from this launch". There remains the specificity of Strasbourg station which, "in addition to TGV and freight trains, sees 150 more TER trains pass daily than that of Lyon-Part-Dieu, and double that of Bordeaux-Saint-Jean". The new operational centre for traffic management at the station is expected to improve traffic flow.
"In the perspective of carbon-free mobility, the Metropolitan Express Networks are a good solution for large conurbations," says Thibaud Philipps, vice-president (LR) of the regional council in charge of transport. On condition of "going in stages and defining the new timetables, based on the constraints of the territories, by associating users and elected officials". What he started doing...
"There have been improvements," acknowledges François Giordani, president of the Fnaut Grand Est grouping 43 user associations, who insists on the need to "regain the confidence of users, otherwise it will be a missed opportunity".