Cancelled 20 years ago, my Paris-Aurillac night train line has been back since Sunday evening, with the first train leaving from the Gare d'Austerlitz under the watchful eye of Transport Minister Clément Beaune and SNCF officials.
The Intercités, partly made up of berths, set off at 19:27 p.m., heading for Aurillac, which it should reach at 07:15 a.m., after stops in Châteauroux, Limoges, Brive, etc.
This inauguration comes on the eve of the Paris-Berlin inauguration, which has also been reinstalled in the context of the return to favour of this mode of nocturnal transport, abandoned in the 2010s. It is "a big acceleration", commented Clément Beaune, while France aims for 10 night lines by the end of the decade, according to a plan launched in 2021.
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For this Paris-Aurillac route, old trains have been renovated to accommodate berths. "We are going to continue the renovations and order new trains at the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025," explained the minister, for a total budget of 150 million eurosdevoted to this project to revive night trains. This also includes equipment such as showers at the end of the platform.
For the Paris-Aurillac line, "as with all lines that do not break even, we assume that they are public service lines, and we subsidize their operation: a line like Paris-Aurillac is between 3 and 4 million euros per year in state subsidies."
Even more than the night train, Clément Beaune stresses the importance of the Intercités, "these train lines that have been neglected, what I sometimes call the Yellow Vest trains, that is to say people who have the feeling that we have only thought of the TGV and not of the Intercités regional trains".
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Jean Castex, the former prime minister who had promised the return of this line to Cantal, was there on Sunday evening to see the train leave and see "that it follows!" he told AFP.
The night train "I believe in it," he added. "It ticks the box of sustainable transport and the box of rurality, aspects that match my DNA."
YES to the #traindenuit! 🌙🚆 pic.twitter.com/q86kC7VgbI
— Clément Beaune (@CBeaune) December 10, 2023
At this stage, three weekly night trips from Paris to Aurillac are offered by the SNCF, in both directions and on weekends. The first sales showed a 65% occupancy rate, according to Clément Beaune.