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Author Topic: The Spinetta report on the future of SNCF  (Read 3559 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2018, 08:03:21 pm »

What I didn't say, when the strikes ended, was that the reform bill became law at the same time (27th June). After various minor amendments, it did implement both reforms kept from the original announcement - making SNCF into a "normal" company, but state owned (and so implementing the EC's competition requirements), and ending the public-sector status (as fonctionnaires) of new recruits.

Of the third original proposal, I said:

...The third, to look at little-used rural lines with a view to passing them on to the regions or otherwise closing them, has been dropped.

However, what Spinetta proposed for those minor lines can be done piecemeal and even without legislation, as they are in any case already supported by regions. He proposed that the infrastructure subsidy for TERs, currently paid by the state, should be transferred to the regions, and that would pass the buck for closure decisions.

Well, it looks as if that was right. The boss of SNCF-Réseau has been doing some thinking aloud with a journalist present, on the subject of reducing the cost of minor lines. In part he's responding to some regions who have been asking to take them over (as well as running the trains) - they would then get contractors to do the work (in both cases). He's got a list of 50 possible cost-reduction measures, presented to the regions who, remember, plan TER services and pay SNCF-Mobilités  to run them, who pay SNCF-Réseau for track access.

I've not seen a complete list of this "kit" of options, but those reported include:

Reducing twin track lines to single - but he means renewing one track, while leaving the second unused and unmaintained until more trains justify its renewal. (La Roche sur Yon to La Rochelle was cited as already having this done: about 60 km but very wiggly.)
Operating short branches as "one train on track" with almost no signals
Using simplified lightweight OLE
Using battery hybrids and discontinuous OLE
Using bitumen to "glue" ballast ("grave-bitume")
and ... giving the maintenance of a whole line to a private contractor.

Not only the unions, but politicians and journalists too react to that last one by citing the disaster, absurdities, etc. caused by privatisation in Britain, though of course representing that as even more of a disaster than Railtrack actually was.

Jeantet made the point that he can't spend more on a line unless he gets more income from more trains using it, thus passing the buck back to the regions. He insists SNCF has to retain control and do any subcontracting, on behalf of the regions. He said the applying all the relevant measures should give a saving of about 30%.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2018, 08:10:17 pm by stuving » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2019, 07:55:52 pm »

One of Spinetta's ideas was opening the network to operators other than SNCF. In part that's mandated by an EU directive, but he wanted to promote competition not just to enable it sulkily. The first round of this programme has just been announced, for two cross-country lines: Nantes-Lyon and Nantes-Bordeaux.

That choice may be because these are TET (« trains d’équilibre du territoire ») services run by direct contract between the central government and SNCF-mobilités. They cost €25M per year, and carry a million passengers, and presumably their newly-refurbished trains will be used rather than the contractors bringing their own. There will be an official notice in the OJ soon, but the ITT isn't due until early 2020. Exactly where the competition is meant to happen is not clear; while the bidding process is sure to be, I presume the service will not be split.

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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2019, 11:18:03 pm »

I was going to add a bit of extra detail about the current service, but some of the reports I'm seeing are wrong. The best I can find about Nantes-Lyon is that there are two Intercités each way each day, a bit under 7 hours but that's to Lyon Vaise (a Metro station). However, there are four through TGVs - via Paris, or rather Massy, and much faster (to below 4:30). On top of that there are about four identified itineraries with a change in Paris, where one of the TGVs is a OUIGO, and timed at 5-6 hours. The Intercités fare is quoted as €90/180 and I'm assuming the TGV will usually cost a lot more, with one leg a OUIGO it'll be in between.

For Nantes-Bordeaux there's only one Intercités most days, and no through TGVs or part-OUIGO journeys.
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