FRANCE: Voyages SNCF Director Rachel Picard has outlined the strategy that the national operator is to implement with the aim of making the TGV once again the preferred mode of transport, in the face of rising competition that includes ride-sharing. At the same time, cost savings averaging 80m a year are planned for the period up to 2020.

Picard told business paper Les Echos that a major element of this strategy would be to combat the perception that TGV fares were now too expensive. SNCF is therefore planning to introduce low-cost Ouigo services from the Paris region to Nantes in September 2016, followed by Rennes and Bordeaux in 2017.

With aim of offering more discounted fares closer to the date of travel, for two months from the end of March 600 000 tickets were to be made available, offering a discount of 40% to 50% to holders of loyalty cards. Longer term, yield management policies are to be thoroughly revised in order to improve train occupancy and produce a clearer fares structure.

Picard also aims to make journeys by TGV ‘very high quality’, with SNCF to unveil a new seat design in September and introduce 4G wi-fi on some routes. This would enable passengers to access a new onboard entertainment portal using their own devices.