SNCF Intercités routes to be shaken up

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by eisenach, 26 May 2015.

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  1. eisenach

    eisenach Member

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    There's an exclusive in Le Parisien saying that many of the SNCF's Intercité routes are under threat. It was also the headline story on the France 2 TV news this lunchtime.

    http://www.leparisien.fr/economie/le-rapport-qui-menace-les-trains-intercites-26-05-2015-4803787.php

    Quotation to comply with forum rules:
    Basically, it's saying that the trains are old, slow, expensive for the customer and run at a huge deficit, and that they often double services provided either by TER or TGV. Sleepers are also in the firing line. The report submitted to the government recommends replacing some services with modern (road) coaches, cutting the number of stops on other routes so that the overall journey time is shorter, reducuing the frequency of trains, shortening the route run, or transferring the service to the TER network (which means that the Regions would have to pick up the tab).

    It also suggests, though, that lines with strong potential should be developed further.

    The last paragraph gives some of the routes involved.

    The Macron law has for the first time opened French long distance travel to coaches, as in Germany. It seems as though the SNCF's rôle might well end up being running the TGV network, and supplying local trains under contract to the Regions, with not much left in between. The accident at Bretingy-sur-Orne is probably hovering in the background, too. TGV has meant that maintenance has suffered elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: 26 May 2015
  2. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    What, I wonder, makes our network much more viable even with very strong coach competition?
     
  3. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Higher frequency, decent journey times (especially compared to road), similar population but in smaller area, more hubs (London, Birmingham, Manchester/Leeds, Scottish Central Belt, South Wales) to drive demand between them, focus on whole network rather than flagship TGV network.
     
  4. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Looks like these are the ones which will be got rid of all together:

    With those that follow being modified - either cut back, or made into TERs.

    The regions taking over is an interesting one - with the new map, I'm wondering whether we will see some of the TER 'companies' merge with neighbouring ones just like they do on the map. Surely they could a) generate efficiency savings, and b) have such a distance that certain Intercités trains are now practically totally in that same region, meaning becoming a TER is a natural choice.

    Of course, all this is coming at 'make your mind up time'. The Corail stock, as comfortable as they are, are getting on a bit and so you can imagine SNCF stripping Intercités back to the core before replacement stock is ordered.

    I'd have said the Intercités to Normandie are probably the safest of the lot, with their being no TGV line (at yet).

    The link in the original post has a good map - "les lignes en sursis" = lines at risk

    I expect we will see more detailed articles on this website: http://transportrail.canalblog.com/
     
    Last edited: 26 May 2015
  5. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Believe it or not:

    Better frequency
    Quicker journey times
    Better punctuality (yes really)
    Better customer service
    Lower costs (I'm not joking!)
    Better fare structure
    Denser population (as in more of us, not less intelligent).
     
  6. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    I don't know if someone could comment further but judging from video 125 cab rides, intermediate stations are often closed in France or have very low amounts of people using them. Compare that with the situation in the UK where the large majority of places have very well used stopping services.

    As regards coach competition I feel (and again I stand to be corrected) that national express which have the biggest UK network have had to add extra stops to ensure the profitability of their routes. This increases journey times and the coach is no match in frequency or journey time on most intercity routes.
     
  7. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    Many economies on InterCity routes here were made ages ago - just look at the number of intermediate stations on the main lines once they're clear of the major metropolitan areas (the WCML is surely unique in offering local services throughout much of its length).
     
  8. glbotu

    glbotu Member

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    To give an example of one of the larger Intercite routes, Bordeaux - Lyon, both cities with an Urban population of around 1.1 million.

    This is about a 600 km (370 mile) drive at around 5 1/2 hours journey time. A similar journey would be Exeter (110,000 pop.) - Newcastle-upon-Tyne (900,000 pop)***. The similarities pretty much end there:

    The biggest population centre on that journey by rail is Clermont-Ferrand, at around 470,000.

    In contrast, to get from Exeter - Newcastle, you go through Bristol (620,000 pop), Cheltenham (115,000 pop), Birmingham (2.4 million), Derby (240,000), Chesterfield (100,000), Sheffield (640,000), Leeds (1.8 million), York (200,000) and Darlington (100,000).

    It can therefore be seen that the main driver for any kind of rail service between Lyon and Bordeaux will be end to end journeys. There is 1 tpd to do the whole journey, which lasts 6h 15 mins, which is comparable to getting the TGV via Paris (at 6hrs 30 mins).

    The main driver on Cross Country routes is smaller express journeys. (Newcastle - Leeds, Exeter - Bristol, Bristol - Birmingham*), which warrant 1tph. Very few people will make the 6h 7 minute journey all the way, but lots of people will contribute across the length, which is what makes that service viable. In contrast, the main Intercite service from Bordeaux - Lyon has to be viable pretty much on end-to-end journeys, with limited traffic from intermediate stops (which are there largely for more "local" journeys of sub - 3 hrs, Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon, for example, that's run by TER).

    In terms of other journeys along that route, they are mostly covered by the TER Network. Getting Bordeaux - Limoges (a branch on the route to a city of about 110,000 people), has an infrequent service of around 3hrs long, again, a notably inter-city distance, but serving nowhere particularly important (it would be akin to running a frequent service non-stop between Exeter and Manchester, there just isn't enough potential traffic for the service to be viable more than once-per-day).

    If the line was "upgraded" to TGV standards, then it may be considered differently. It could certainly be seen as viable to have maybe a 2 hourly service between the two if the journey time could be sub 3 hours (it would also be handy for general cross-country rail traffic in France).

    But that's the crux of it, a slower cross country journey isn't viable in a country who's rail spending has entirely focused on radial High-Speed routes from one city.

    France is one of the few countries in the world with a population distribution similar to the UK, with one dominant city, and a small number of moderate cities. However due to the huge increase in size, the density is much lower, with difficulties in getting between the other population centres.

    ***It's difficult to find similar sized journeys in the UK, France is big.
    ** Urban Area populations used.
    * I'm only looking at lines served by the hourly service, obviously, it also contributes to 4 tph Sheffield - Derby, Derby - Birmingham.
     
  9. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    France's population distribution, as well as explaining why the Intercities struggle, also explains why the TGV system is so well suited.
     
  10. glbotu

    glbotu Member

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    Absolutely. I reckon France should be investing in more Cross Country TGV routes. Bordeaux - Lyon would be a great start, but doesn't even seem on the cards, having been abandoned (link in French). The planned Bordeaux - Toulouse will help get traffic between Bordeaux and Marseille, although Toulouse - Marseille is still a painful 4 hours.

    While non-London centric traffic is kind of bad here, it's no-where near as bad as non-Paris centric traffic is in France.
     
  11. dutchflyer

    dutchflyer Member

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    Reports/articles with the very same idea have already been published many times the last 2 years. And a thorough review of the TGV services is also planned/discussed, incluidng cutting off all those branches on non-TGV local lines-sometimes even diesel-hauled!.
    @CC71100: TER is NOT a company at all-its simply the name/label for local trains organised/subsidised by the regions. Similar to what Germany calls ''regional verkehr''. In fact there is now also a kind of savings plan to merge various regions-with the usual resistance.
    Most of the more viable routes run to/fro Paris-and these thus always cross into the around Paris =Transilien region (Ile de Paris in official French). Its simply a fact that demand for travel in the whole (be it train, bus or car) is much, much lower in provincial France as it is in the UK-and even lower in Espana.
    Sleepers as such have already been withdrawn several years ago-overnight trains are now recline seat and couchette only (with 4 or 6 beds).
    One of the main obstacles in French are the outmoded working practices-kept on by staff ever ready to go on strike and gross overstaffing. As the UK also kind of had in the 80ies of last century.
     
  12. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    I'm aware of that, hence the use of inverted commas. To be honest, I couldn't think of a better way of paraphrasing it. My point still stands - are TER whatever-you-want-to-call-them going to go by the old map or the new one which sees the merging of regions, and therefore TER 'organisations' which could generate cost savings, especially as some Intercités service that previously ran through 3 old regions, may now be wholly in one of Hollande's new megaregions.
     
  13. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    How does the TGV compare to the German ICE?
    Do all TGV routes have real high speed sections?
    Many ICE trains run on conventional lines and therefore simply replaced IC services with similar timing. Also Germany's new concept sees the IC (Twindexx etc) as a better Regional Express.
    I am sure with Bus competion more German IC routes will also be slashed.
    So far, I rather change trains on my Düsseldorf-Brussels/London journeys than taking the direct IC Bus, even though speed is not a priority for me.
     
  14. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    As far as I'm aware all TGV routes have high speed sections and the speed attained is at least 300 kph. In addition TGVs can run faster on conventional lines in some cases. I'd be very interested to know how the ICE services compare. I think bus competition will force IC to cut prices. I can't see people switching from train to coach and I'm guessing those that do use coaches are on a tight budget or have lots of time to spare.
     
  15. glbotu

    glbotu Member

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    It's a pretty similar experience from a journey perspective, but frequencies on the ICE are much better. TGV tend to run with a few trains a day (around 4), which sort of adds up on the "trunk" routes, even something like Paris - Lyon is only approximately hourly.
    Pretty much. A couple of infrequent ones don't and mostly operate to provide direct services between major cities. Marseille - Bordeaux is a good example.
    I wouldn't be so quick to jump to bus competition. There's much less of a resistance to changing trains in Germany and the trains are still notably quicker.
     
  16. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    The core TGV routes from Paris are all pretty much hourly on the HS sections, though the lower speed extensions and some of the cross-country routes are less frequent.
    Even Marseille-Bordeaux has a bit of HSL at the beginning.

    ICEs are concentrated on routes using the HSLs part way (except the ICE-T routes through Erfurt where it was the tilt that was important), but the proportion of HSL mileage to ICE mileage is smaller, and there are some very long distances over routes that are 200kph or less.
     
  17. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    Does anyone know if coaches in Germany are allowed to go fast on autobahns to better compete with trains ?
     
  18. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Pretty sure they are limited to 100km/h (62mph) as in the UK, this is an EU standard I believe.
     
  19. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    Ya never know with the Germans :) after all it's quite common to be overtaken by a 'foreign' coach.
     
  20. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    In general that is the case, but this company uses 8 seat minibuses which aren't subject to those rules, enabling it to claim a 'cruising speed' of 135-145 km/h:

    http://www.matzes-minibus.de/
     
  21. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    Wow that's pretty cool - the only advert I've seen advertising high cruising speeds. Of course in the UK the maximum cruising speed they could advertise is 70 mph - is that considered high speed ?

    Of course the only way you can legally exceed 70 mph without flying is on a train and most long distance services don't advertise their top speed ..
     
  22. leytongabriel

    leytongabriel Member

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    A few points from a local resident pickig up the arguments above, sorry these are fragmented

    The continuing developement of a very extensive motorway system in France has to be part of the equation I'd guess.

    The original article wasn't quite right - a lot of IC routes have 'Corail' refitted stock. IMHO the old intercity coaches have about the most comfortable seats you can find in second class nowadays.

    Ticket pricing can also be a disincentive to regional destinations. The 'Prems' equivalent of advance tickets are only available to and from a limited list of major stations. Meaning it may be much cheaper to take a Prems to a major town even if it is further away than get a standard ticket to an intermediate station a or perhaps a station on a secondary main line.

    The policy of regional subsidy of TER trains may now be threatened given the change in French politics. Currently standard TER fares tend to be lower than standard SNCF but they don't have cheap offers unless you have a regional railcard. A very alarmist map of rail closures said to be under discussion was published by a rail union last year, but seems to have disappeared for the moment.

    And finally , though it is sad to say this, station staffing levels are quite extraordinary to British eyes.
     
  23. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    All being well I shall be going on these services from Paris to the Dordogne next week. I will stock up on food at Austerlitz before I get on board as on a similar service last year these was no catering at all and it's a long journey. Some trains go from Paris to the Spanish Border.
     
  24. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    No catering at all ? No water ?? You could die on that train (!)
     
  25. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    On two similar longish services I went on last year, there was no buffer or restaurant car and no sign of a trolley or vending machine. Catering can vary alot on European trains, even main line/long distance services which why I buy food and drink at the stations before I get on board just in case. (It's often cheaper doing that too.)

    Another thing thing I noticed on these trains last year was the odd seating sometimes. In 2nd class, it was an open carriage, either 2 x 2 airline style or 4 round a table either side of the aisle as we get here, but in the centre of some coaches, it changes to 1 seat opposite and other on one side of the aisle and then 3 seats opposite the other on the opposite side of the aisle. just seemed a bit strange.
     
  26. Ianigsy

    Ianigsy Member

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    Ah, that explains something! Have just been booking Lyon-Chambery-Milan for July and wondered why the seats I kept being offered were "aisle", "middle" or "window"- of course going through the Alps I wanted a window seat but it took some fiddling to get one! Perhaps SNCF did some research and found that 3+1 was actually a better match for the size of parties using the service- it allows two parents and a child to sit together facing the same way, or a larger family to occupy all six.

    Must do a nice long French regional journey one day while they're still there- didn't realise until the other night that there's still a TER service going Paris Bercy-Dijon-Lyon.
     
  27. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The groups of 6 seem very popular on LM's 3+2 seated 350/2s when these appear on Crewe and Brum routes - family groups and the likes tend to take them. A group of 6 with 2+2 seat width may well be even more popular, and the 1 side (particularly if there are individual airline seats) would be very much favoured by solo travellers.

    Might even be worth a UK TOC trying it.
     
  28. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    I have just returned from my recent trip to France, all went well on Eurostar and the IC trains to the Dordogne, which were better than the ones I went on last year. Similar funny seating as mentioned above, but I was lucky in both directions as I had the single solo seats with table, with good window and facing direction of travel in bother directions. Very clean and smart looking and very fast running too.
     
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