FRANCE: SNCF President Guillaume Pepy and the President of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Renaud Muselier, signed a co-operation agreement on January 17 covering the development of regional passenger services in 2019-23.
The improvement plan covers the remaining period within SNCF’s current agreement to operate local passenger trains. The contract to operate TER Région Sud is due to be put out to competitive tender from 2023.
Key aspects of the improvement programme include an increase in frequency on the busiest corridors, with SNCF expected to run four trains per hour at peak times between Cannes, Nice and Monaco; Marseille – Toulon; Marseille – Miramas; and, from 2022, Marseille – Aix-en-Provence. This increase in provision will be supported by the procurement of a further five Régiolis EMUs ‘with enhanced comfort and performance’.
Passenger security is another key aspect, with SNCF promising a major increase in staff visibility and ticket checks to prevent fraudulent travel. Staff numbers are to be increased at the busiest stations, while the station teams will be given a key remit of improving information for passengers. Under a programme branded ‘Acces TER’, steps will be taken to improve access to trains for passengers with reduced mobility.
Station amenities are also to be enhanced across the network, with the objective of improving interchange between trains and local bus and coach services as well as trams and metro networks in Marseille and Nice.
The improvement plan will be funded through a capital outlay by the region of €104m over five years. However, this will be offset against a reduction in its annual subsidy payments to SNCF from €276·8m in 2019 to €255m in 2023, at constant prices.
‘I am pleased to have reached this agreement with SNCF after several months of negotiation’, said Muselier. ‘It gives a stable plan to develop TER services across the region while controlling our financial commitments. Next year, we will start the process of launching a call for tenders to operate some regional services from 2023, and of course SNCF will be able to respond. This should lead to a further increase in service quality at the best possible price for the region.’