France SNCF - idTGV OR TGV... What is the difference?

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Ian99

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According to the French SNCF site I can go from La Rochelle to Paris on August 20 via either

TGV 178 Euros Depart 1422hrs Arr 1749hrs

idTGV 119 Euros Depart 1435hrs Arr 1749hrs

Anyone know how that might work - I understand that it will be the same train, but two different departure times?
 
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LexyBoy

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I think they are separate trains - TGV8382 and IDTGV2960. The iDTGV calls only at Niort (1517) whilst the TGV has 4 calls (Niort 1502). They may join nearer to Paris though it seems unlikely that this would happen not at a station.
 

30907

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Normally iDTGV and TGV run coupled together (as do many normal TGVs).

My guess is that there's an issue over platform lengths at La Rochelle (and intermediately), and they run separately to Poitiers. Why iDTGV isn't offered from Poitiers I don't know.
 

LexyBoy

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That would make sense - could be that there's not sufficient time for the iDTGV to have a call there (it may join after the preceeding TGV has been cleared for despatch), or that there isn't a business case for running the cheaper service from there.
 

k-c-p

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These two trains run as a pair. According to the idTGV schedule and the departure/arrival times vary in July/August
http://www.idtgv.com/idestinations/la-rochelle

idTGV tickets are not available from all stations (even if the TGV that the idTGV is added too, stops there). idTGV requires special handling by station staff: they usually rope off the access to the train and your have to show your ticket to get unto the platform.

In terms of fares: idTGV is cheaper than regular TGV fare, because:
- tickets are sold online only
- tickets are non-refundable (similiar to Prems Fare for "regular" TGVs)
- tickets can be exchanged for a fee only
- your have to print it yourself
- fares cannot be combined with other offers
- a maximum of two pieces of luggage for free (for more, you have to pay extra)

Details (in Frensh) at
http://www.idtgv.com/conditions-de-loffre

Bon Voyage
 

Bletchleyite

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I was never quite sure why they have both idTGV and Ouigo, but I guess it's appealing to different markets in some way - idTGV appears not to be "cut to the bone" low cost, while Ouigo is. You could say idTGV is like easyJet and Ouigo like Ryanair, perhaps - not quite the same thing.

First's East Coast open access service may be broadly similar in concept, though I recall it was unable to resist a quick ORCATS raid so Any Permitted walk-ups will be accepted, and I don't give it long before they come up with their own walk-ups to get a larger cut of revenue - First aren't good at sticking to new concepts and tend to go where the money is.
 

k-c-p

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The comparison between Ryanair and Ouigo is pretty good.

As Ryanair usually server airport way out, Ouigo services do not run to central Paris but serve stations in the banlieue (most notably Marne La vallée).

Like with low cost airlines, even the slightest extra has to be paid. Some hightlights (taken from http://ouigo.com/toutes-nos-options)
- 2nd piece of luggage 5€ at booking, 10€ after booking, 20€ at station
- seat with power socket 2€
- information via SMS 1€

As with idTGV platforms will be roped off and tickets are checked before access to the platform is granted.
When I was in Marseille I saw people queueing for the Morning departure when I passed through the station on my way to the métro.

Ouigo seems to be quite a success. SNCF extended the network in December of last year.

And since April this year there is the "izy" between Brussels and Paris. They took it to a new level and sell even a few standing room tickets and tickets for the folding seats (https://www.izy.com/en/about-offer).
In order to save costs the trains run on classic lines in France. Therefore the travel time is about an hour longer than with Thalys, but much cheaper.
 

NicholasNCE

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iDTGV is a much older concept than Ouigo, dating back to 2004 when internet sales were still quite a novelty for SNCF. It's a separate company fully owned by SNCF which charters TGV for specific routes.
In practice, these TGVs always run coupled to another TGV in conventional service and have the same stopping pattern though some of the stops may not be commercially available for the iDTGV part of the train... Though nothing stops someone holding a Paris-Nice iDTGV ticket short-stopping in Antibes for example, a largely tolerated practice.
Who said the UK has the most complex railway in the world?

Ouigo is indeed best compared to Ryanair and is very succesfull, with over 90% load factors IIRC. It is also used by SNCF as a testbed to improve productivity of their rolling stock.

Worth noting, both Ouigo and iDTGV are stand alone service and as such manually booked connections are absolutely not guaranteed.


First's East Coast open access service may be broadly similar in concept, though I recall it was unable to resist a quick ORCATS raid so Any Permitted walk-ups will be accepted, and I don't give it long before they come up with their own walk-ups to get a larger cut of revenue - First aren't good at sticking to new concepts and tend to go where the money is.

ORCATS is in my opinion one of the most attractive features of the British rail system as it offers a level of flexibility to non-TOC restricted ticket holders rarely, if ever, found elsewhere. Only HKX with DB tickets comes to mind.
 

Myb

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Some background on the genesis of iDTGV and Ouigo...

The idea of liberalisation of rail services has been present for the best part of the last two decades, pushed by the EU, even though the French government has tried hard, and so far succeeded, to prevent it.

While DB has chosen to force-fill the taktfahrplan so that no useful paths are left available for open-access operators, SNCF, like the proverbial judoka who leverages energy from its enemy rather than fighting against it, has taken a head start with new business concepts (OuiBus shares the same philosophy).

iDTGV was the first experiment back in 2004. Its aim was to solve the dilemma that new open-access operators would not be bound to the very worker-friendly rail bargaining agreement, thus being more competitive.

This has led SNCF to set-up a private company with labour conditions (and costs) in line with "vanilla" private companies. Short-formed trains would be doubled with iDTGV sets staffed with iDTGV crews. Thus no drivers would be required and the company can be launched without the market being formally liberalised.

It was also used as a laboratory to test innovations used in the airline industry, such as in-train entertainment.

However, the enhanced rail collective agreement agreed with a few weeks ago now applies to all rail companies (SNCF as well as future hypothetical open-access operators). At the risk of steering off-topic, I add that the government was keen to sign this agreement, being entangled with significant opposition to the wide-reaching labour law that was being introduced into parliament.

So one could say the iDTGV experiment is now somewhat useless, as SNCF legacy services are now competitive... at the expense of competitiveness of the rail sector as a whole.

OuiGo was launched much more recently, in 2013, as SNCF, being faced with the erosion of TGV profit margins, tried a new, more productive trainset organisation by:
* reducing lost time at terminii (from 2 hours to 40 minutes, somewhat closer to Shinkansen efficiency :lol:) ;
* densifying trainsets: no buffet, full 2nd class throughout and more compact (regional train style) seats ;
* increasing the efficiency of the maintenance regime. For instance, a train is allocated to one depot and maintained at night-time only, instead of roving between numerous depots. Some of these innovations have since been brought to SNCF mainline.

The distribution system has also been streamlined by selling tickets on the web only and using an off-the-shelf distribution system (the same as most low-cost airlines in fact).

Compared to iDTGV, OuiGo's is staffed by "classic" SNCF agents, with the same benefits.

This new organisation enables much lower prices: 30% cheaper on average, from 10 EUR to a maximum fare of 85 EUR.

OuiGo has so far been a huge success with 99% load factor last summer with most of customers being induced rather than cannibalised from classic TGV services.

However, the development of OuiGo has led to the withdrawal of low profitability cross-country services, with reduced convinience for customers. For example, services that used to terminate in Lille now terminate in Tourcoing which is quite far away from the action! (and with a 30mn check-in deadline to boot)

TL/DR: both companies were tried to modernise historic railway practices, on two key areas: personnel costs for iDTGV and trainset productivity for OuiGo.
 
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Ian99

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The conversation seems to have moved on a bit but re my question about why the two "trains" leave at different times and arrive at the same time, SNCF may have had the same question (or were reading this thread...) as this morning they emailed to say (translated from French),

"Contrary to what is indicated on your ticket or on your order confirmation, we inform you that your iDTGV 2960 will leave La Rochelle at 2:22 p.m. rather than 2:35 p.m.

Your arrival in Paris Montparnasse train station remains unchanged. "
 
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