SNCF tariffs: could France also test free trains?

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While Germany has been testing unlimited train tickets for 9 euros per month since June 1, Spain will offer many free trips from September 1 to December 31, 2022. Objective: to limit the impact of inflation and fight against global warming by promoting the use of public transport. But, as Ouest-France reported this Friday, August 5, France does not seem ready to follow this path.

In Spain, the measure was announced in mid-July by the government when inflation reached 10.8% over one year. But opinions on this measure are mixed. According to several experts, this free service risks causing the saturation of the rail networks. This is particularly what happened in Germany.

Indeed, after having set up unlimited tickets at 9 euros per month for regional trains and municipal transport, on June 1, the German rail network quickly found itself saturated. According to the Federation of Transport Companies, 21 million tickets were sold in June and public transport saw its attendance increase by 10%. Problem: the number of trains had not increased.

Result: chaos quickly took hold of some German stations. The railways therefore had to mobilize more trains and staff for the summer. This measure is due to end at the end of August and the Liberal Minister of Finance has already announced that it will not be renewed. Having cost 3 billion euros to the State, it is not viable over time.

Could we soon see such measures tested in France? Probably not, or at least not immediately. The trend is quite different in our country. Between April 2021 and April 2022, the price of train tickets has indeed increased by 14.6% according to INSEE. An increase that even reached 15.3% between January and April 2022.

On July 26, an LFI MP asked the question to the Minister of Transport, ClĂ©ment Beaune. And the latter quickly dismissed the idea. While French rail infrastructure requires investments of 100 billion euros over 15 years, the minister explained that there were other priorities for the moment. “We need to reinvest in everyday transport, we will of course also work with SNCF on pricing issues,” he said, while recalling that three quarters of train tickets sold in France already benefit discounts.