SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou is asking for 100 billion euros to double rail traffic in the coming years. This period of crossover reveals the flaws of the network acclaimed by the French but struggling to respond to the influx. SNCF is facing a tense situation in this summer of 2022: 18 million tickets sold, 10% attendance compared to the same period in 2019, and occupancy rates of 80% on average. “One in three TGVs departing this weekend” is therefore full, indicates to the Journal du Dimanche Christophe Fanichet, president of SNCF Voyageurs. And not enough trains to match the unprecedented scale of ridership. Since June, travelers have therefore had to deal with repeated delays, crowded platforms, or even the slowdown of trains due to the heat wave.

Without confirming the amount advanced by Jean-Pierre Farandou, the Minister of Transport Clément Beaune assures in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche that the increase in the means devoted to the rail network is a “budgetary priority”. Arrived at the government on July 4, 2022, he gave himself several projects: “a precise assessment of needs, and priorities for modernizing the network”, pricing (especially for young people and less well-off passengers) and information for travelers . “One of my priorities, from the start of the school year, is to think with SNCF Réseau about possible solutions or additional means”, he describes. “It would be dishonest to say that we can do high speed, regeneration, small line support at the same time, without sequencing or prioritizing”.

If he considers that “the TGV is not outdated”, Clément Beaune first wants to prioritize “everyday transport, often metropolitan, such as the Transilien in the Paris region”. A way, according to him, to “improve the quality of life of our fellow citizens, and in particular those who struggle in transport”. Regarding tariffs, Clément Beaune recognizes that “progress can still be made”. Finally, he considers that information for travelers, especially during heat waves, is a subject to be worked on: “In periods of high heat in particular, we can understand the difficulties. They must be solved, anticipated, but also informed to travelers in a transparent way. There is nothing more irritating, at the time of the great departures, than not knowing what is happening.

Despite the saturation of the network at the moment, Clément Beaune considers that the SNCF is going through “an exceptional summer by the attendance on the trains, by the level of heat”. And that if all the measures taken “did not avoid weaknesses on the network, traffic slowdowns”, “the public rail service has faced this situation of accelerated recovery”, he believes.