“The TGV is a popular fashion. It must remain accessible to all ! ” (Elizabeth Terminal, minister of Transport)

“The train is irreplaceable on a number of routes”, said the minister of Transport Elizabeth Terminal on Thursday at a debate organized by the national Federation of public works (FNTP), and “La Tribune”. The minister has taken the example of the RER HAS, with its 1.2 million passengers per day, which is, incidentally, the line most used in Europe. With 40,000 kilometres travelled on a daily basis, this train made every day, the equivalent of one full rotation of the Earth, reminds us of the regulated public on its website.

“The TER is fully relevant when it is of large capacity,” says Elizabeth Terminal.

It should be noted in this regard that in its first annual report on the transport market by coach, the Arafer, the regulator of the rail and the road, ensures that the cars Macron do not compete with very few lines TER train or coach, organized and financed by the regions, in contrast to the view of the past.

The State does not intend to be too interventionist

Whatever it is, “the market of cars Macron is trying to regulate,” said the minister. While stating that “the State is not there to respond to any proposal in France”. According to Elizabeth Terminal, the public authorities must, however, be careful not to allow unfair competition or social dumping.

Advocating a certain facilitation of intermodality, the minister has, among others, felt that a system of carpooling from home to work such as that recently launched by the unicorn French Blablacar was “its place in a multimodal system”. The limit of the model is the recruitment of the carpool, who can be timid in the face of uncertainty of the return journey. “They don’t have problems in recruiting prospective drivers, but rather carpool partners who want to be certain of being able to return home in the evening.” “We need to think about incentive systems, and make visible bids”, has analysed the minister. What to confirm the observation of the young shoot presented as a leader in the field WayzUp, in which the RATP has just invested over a million euros.

The debt abyssal of the SNCF

Remains a major problem for the station in terms of the opening up to competition : the colossal debt of the SNCF Network, manager public of the French network. According to Elizabeth Terminal, “it will be necessary that we raise the question of the debt of the rail sector”. It would have to be decided by the executive branch, whereas the previous government had excluded any reproduction, even partial, by the end of 2016. “The evolution of (this) debt of the rail sector is extremely worrying”, stressed the minister, recalling that the debt of the SNCF Network reached 45 billion euros and that “under the best assumptions were to increase by a further 50% in the next ten years”. “This is obviously unsustainable for the sector,” she observed, deeming it necessary that his government “is tackling this subject.”

The minister of Transport has shown itself unfavourable to an increase of the toll rail, which would increase the revenue of the SNCF Network, but also the price of train tickets, in particular the TGV, which should be accessible to the greatest number. The one that has worked for five years with Guillaume Pepy, when she was director of the strategy of the SNCF between 2002 and 2007, has in fact insisted on this point:

“The TGV is a mode [of transportation] in the past popular. It must remain accessible to all”. And chain, respecting the allusion is to the inauguration on the 1st of July, of the lines Paris-Bordeaux in 2: 30 and Paris-Rennes in 1h30:

“When one spends millions to create high-speed lines (LGV), we would be well inspired to run a maximum of trains on it.”

Read also : the SNCF pushes to the background the model of low-cost Ouigo to save the TGV

Finally, if Elizabeth Terminal has not explicitly referred to a takeover by the State of the debt of the SNCF Network, which the previous government had refused to ease in September, the name of the reduction of public deficits, Emmanuel Macron, to him, had proposed during his presidential campaign. And if this hypothesis is confirmed, the SNCF will be then probably be ordered to rectify its accounts. “It will be necessary that each one do his or her part of the way and ensures that everyone has done the maximum,” warned the minister of Transport.

The timing of this operation should depend on the level of openness to competition of the railway sector, scheduled in stages by 2023. This liberalization “implies to put the sector on its own two feet, which is not the case today”, she concluded, confirming the findings of the Arafer on this point.

Read also : The Arafer does not endorse the financial trajectory of the SNCF

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