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SNCF launches cheaper trains… but slower!


“VYou will give me a go at 300 km/h and a return at 160 km/h. “On the eve of this departure on vacation, this is what we can hear (or almost) at the ticket office of the stations or see on the rail reservation sites. The SNCF has just launched Monday on Paris-Nantes and Paris-Lyon its Ouigo Classic Train offer with renovated Corail trains traveling at 160 km / h, serving new stations in Île-de-France (Juvisy, Versailles-Chantiers, Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and Melun) and seven others outside Île-de-France (Chartres, Les Aubrais, Blois Chambord, Saumur, Dijon, Chalon-sur-Saône and Mâcon Ville).

To these same destinations of Nantes and Lyon, the TGV pushes peaks at 320 km / h, which takes two hours for the journey against four by the classic line. The price of the ticket is to match, ranging from 10 to 97 euros, to believe that the price list is indexed on the speeds of the trains. Children on board Ouigo Train Classique pay 5 euros, and for the bicycles, 16 in number, you will have to pay the sum of 5 euros (under cover) to 10 euros (not disassembled). No refund in case of cancellation.

Former price per kilometer

Back in the 1970s: before the arrival of the TGV, the price of a railway ticket in first and second was proportional to the distance travelled. To calculate it, all you had to do was multiply the price per kilometer (set by the State) by the distance given by the Chaix timetable indicator.

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With the appearance of the TGV in 1981, traveling on costly new dedicated lines, often shorter, a real-time differential pricing system called “yield management” and inspired by air transport appeared. The objective is to set prices according to demand and to adjust according to the filling rate of the trains. The Intercités trains with compulsory reservation will be compelled to do so later, while the TER or the Transilien, subsidized by the regions, follow a different logic. For the traveler who has to take a TER and then a TGV, it is often a fare gas factory, due to lack of coordination between SNCF Voyageurs and the regional councilors. The slowest connection can be the most expensive!

Revolution among railway workers

Despite its “slowness” comparable to that of Intercités and TER, Ouigo Train Classique offers a small revolution. Managed in a subsidiary, its personnel no longer have the status of railway worker, but they were recruited with salaries up 7 to 20% compared to the standard grid. In exchange, the driver, the chef de train and the comfort and services manager are multi-competent, which is howling the professional organizations which tried Monday morning to oppose the departure of the first train.

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The driver, instead of calling on shunters, couples the locomotive to his train and handles the switches, while the chef de train has been trained in brake testing. The comfort and services manager carries out minor repairs to prevent the train from returning to the Technicentre. The crew is therefore responsible for the implementation of its train from A to Z. This corresponds to the recommendations of the recent senatorial report which deplored that in France “three times more agents are necessary to run a train than elsewhere in Europe “.

SNCF management is giving this new railway company, a 100% subsidiary of SNCF Voyageurs, two years to succeed. If successful, the 9 locomotives and 36 80-seat cars will make it possible “to go up to three frequencies, then to open up new destinations, where there are 700,000 vehicles on the road”, indicates Alain Krakovitch, director of TGV-Intercités. Already 60,000 tickets have been sold and some trains are sold out for the holidays as well as for the final of the French Football Cup which will take place… in Nantes.


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