French Senate Backs Rail Reform and Shake Up of SNCF
French politicians have adopted draft legislation with a new framework in place for the National Society of French Railways (SNCF).
SNCF will be split into two clearly defined units. SNCF Network will comprise RFF (Réseau Ferré de France – French Rail Network), SNCF Infrastructure and traffic management group DCF. The second unit, SNCF Mobility, will manage passenger and freight operations.
The move is designed to not only improve network performance but also curb some of RFF’s spiralling debts, reported to grow by €1.5 billion each year. At the same time the new legislation strengthens the powers of the French rail regulatory authority (ARAF).
A short term trigger of the re-organisation occurred in May this year when RFF and SNCF realised that a new fleet of regional trains were too big for many older station platforms in a mishap they believe will need €50 million to fix.
The bill did not pass easily through the Senate, receiving 188 votes in favour and 150 against.
Created in 1937 from six regional companies, SNCF has allowed the State to ensure the development of public rail service.
Despite successive reforms, the law on inland transport 1982 and the creation of RFF in 1997, the French government believes that all of the current rail system suffers from ‘failures in the production of a supply of transport, which harms consumers and business travellers’.
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