FRANCE: Ouigo low-cost TGV services are to be expanded to a further eight stations in the north and west of the country in 2016, SNCF announced on September 3.

Faced with increasing competition from the liberalisation of long-distance bus services and the growth of ride-sharing, SNCF has unveiled a new commercial offer intended to ‘consolidate its leading position’ as a multi-modal operator.

Pointing out that ‘the transport market is changing’, and that people increasingly want to travel ‘easily, more often and at low cost’, President Guillaume Pepy explained that ‘we wanted to review all of our range of services in order to meet the expectations of the market, with a new offer that is clearer, fuller and more accessible.’

Executive Director, Passenger, Barbara Dalibard said SNCF was ‘looking to strengthen the foundations it has already established with Ouigo and iDBus.’ Since 2010, more than a million passengers have used the ‘100% eco’ tickets on Intercité services, of which 80% were new to rail. Another 1·5 million have used iDBus services since 2012, while Ouigo has carried 6 million passengers in just two years.

The ‘new offer’ will see long-distance travel divided into three bands, with the ‘high-quality’ TGV services at the top of the range. In the mid-range, a revamped network of Intercité and TER services will ensure ‘accessible journeys to the heart of the country’. All low-price offers will all be grouped together under the #OUI brand, including iDBus services which will now be marketed as OuiBus. Thanks to the use of digital technology including internet ticket sales. #OUI will be available throughout France, providing ‘the essentials of the trip, without frills and without compromise’.

From 2016 Ouigo trains will serve Tourcoing, TGV Haut Picardie, Nantes, Rennes, Le Mans, Angers, Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle and Massy TGV, operating almost 50 trips per week. SNCF expects to offer more than 6 million tickets at fares starting from €10. OuiBus services will be doubled to 136 day and night routes connecting 46 destinations and offering 4 million seats from €5. According to Dalibard, this ‘massive offer’ at the low-cost end of the market should see #OUI services carrying 10 million passengers in 2016, rising to 18 million by 2018.

Pepy said SNCF was ‘clarifying’ its range ‘to make the whole offer simpler to understand and use. Not only will we give our customers more choice but we want give them all the means to compare.’ The core objective is to attract as many passengers as possible, ‘but this does not mean everyone travelling in the same way. So we want to offer solutions for everyone, everywhere and in complete confidence’.