EUROPE: High speed operator Thalys is to introduce a new fares structure and onboard service proposition on September 12. The current Comfort 1 and Comfort 2 classes of travel are to be replaced with Standard, Comfort and Premium, improving flexibility and increasing the proportion of discounted fares on offer from 25% to 30%.

According to Thalys CEO Agnès Ogier, the objective is ‘full trains and the highest possible level of customer satisfaction’, by means of ‘fair pricing’, an improved onboard environment and ‘value-added services to meet the new needs of passengers.’

She added: ‘we have set ourselves two golden rules: listening to our customers and flexibility’. According to Commercial & Marketing Director Bruno Dierickx, customer feedback had convinced Thalys that ‘we had to move from the binary Comfort 1/Comfort 2 model and adopt something more personalised and more flexible.’

With advance-purchase Paris — Brussels fares starting at €29, Standard class offers a journey ‘meeting the highest standards of international transport’, according to Thalys. Passengers will be able to access ‘new-generation’ wi-fi, with catering available in the bar car.

The new Comfort class is aimed at the business traveller, and specifically those who in recent years have downgraded from Comfort 1 to Comfort 2 due to more restrictive corporate travel policies. There will be on average 39 seats per car, compared to 56 in Comfort 2, equipped with larger tables for working onboard.

Premium class combines flexible fares, starting at €115 for Paris — Brussels, with ‘exceptional’ onboard service aimed at meeting the needs of frequent travellers and the business market. This includes at-seating catering developed with chefs Frank Fol and Olivier Pichot, a wide selection of newspapers and magazines and Premium wi-fi which is to be further upgraded from December 10.