French National Railways has unveiled a second tranche of measures designed to win back passengers following recent difficulties (RG 3.97 p175). According to SNCF President Louis Gallois, the 10 sales and marketing initiatives aim to make train travel easier, cheaper, more practical, punctual and inviting.

From June, young people aged 12 to 25 will, subject to availability, be eligible for a 25% fare discount without the need for a railcard. The fare will also apply to return tickets for any two people travelling together. SNCF’s existing Carrissimo railcard for young people is to be replaced from June by a new product offering a 50% reduction on most journeys (25% on others) and costing Fr270 for 12 months.

TGV fares across France are to be harmonised from September, with the current four-tier structure simplified to three levels. Tickets ordered by Minitel will be delivered to home addresses free of charge from May, and from June children under the age of four can have a seat on any train for Fr50. The current arrangement of free travel but no guaranteed seat for under-fours remains.

On the Paris suburban network, credit/ debit cards will be accepted as payment for all tickets costing Fr15 or more from April, and from July 93% of trains will run within three minutes of the advertised arrival time. This figure is to increase to 95% in 1998 and more information is to be provided on the performance of main line services. By the end of this year SNCF is to improve provision of information when traffic is disrupted, including a new telephone service.

From June 120 stations will have information kiosks, with staff wearing distinctive uniforms. Facilities for disabled passengers will be improved in 200 stations, with more wheelchairs and chair lifts, platform-edge warning strips for the partially-sighted and improved facilities for the hard of hearing at ticket windows. From June, wheelchair passengers will be able to buy tickets and reserve space from home.

  • In order to avoid a repetition of events earlier this year which left TGV passengers stranded in southern France (RG 2.97 p82), SNCF is to introduce a package of measures to deal with situations such as extremely cold weather and their consequences. As well as making better use of weather forecasts and improving real-time train location, SNCF is to put into place a passenger assistance network with controllers and on-train personnel communicating by mobile telephone. o