TER train.

TER train.

FRANCE: A survey of rail passengers and potential users has found that national train services are perceived as too expensive and too inflexible.

Carried out by market research group IFOP for the National Federation of Transport User Associations (FNAUT), the survey also determined that trains were viewed as fast, comfortable and easy to use.

Half the people surveyed had used rail at least once during the last 12 months. Of these, 43% had used TGV services, 36% had travelled on TER trains and 27% had taken Intercités services.

Rail was seen as an alternative to the private car mainly for journeys of 300 km to 500 km, with air travel seen as preferable for trips longer than 500 km.

Many of those surveyed mentioned that the advantages of rail travel included being able to carry out other activities whilst on the move. A similar percentage viewed the train as practical as there was no need to drive and 41% of users believed train travel favoured the environment.

Those questioned also highlighted strikes and other forms of disruption which FNAUT suggested led to an exaggerated perception of travel being more difficult than it was in practice.

Cost was seen as the main factor discouraging use of rail, with 53% of those questioned placing ticket price among the top five criteria when choosing the method of travel. Some 61% of non-users viewed TGV trains as too expensive and only 34% of all respondents felt that rail was good value for money. About 70% of non-users viewed train travel as inconvenient and the same percentage considered that they could not be sure of arriving on time; 62% of non-users said rail was impractical for carrying luggage.

Access to stations was considered to be a significant factor acting against train travel. Some 77% of those questioned believed it was difficult to park at stations before travelling; 66% said it was difficult to store a bicycle securely at stations and 62% felt that it was unpleasant to walk to a station.

As many as 75% of non-rail users said that they often or systematically chose other modes, even though it would be possible for them to use rail for journeys of over 100 km. As a result, FNAUT concluded that non-users could be incentivised to travel by train with lower prices, but it also highlighted industrial action and security issues as perceived disincentives.

The survey was carried out during two weeks in April 2024 using a sample of 2 003 people aged over 18 picked as representative of the French population.