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A competitive offer

Improving its railway transport offer and meeting the expectations of its customers are at the very heart of the strategic priorities of SNCF Réseau. To this end, the French railway operator is committed to fulfilling access requests to its network at fair prices. It also seeks to develop railway traffic, especially freight transport.

Offering quality products which meet customer needs as closely as possible

Every day SNCF Réseau must respond to and fulfil all train path requests for high speed, major line, regional and freight trains. These time slots allow railway companies to operate their trains in defined geographical zones and during specific time periods. However, at the same time, the organisation of renovation works on the network means that some time periods must be reserved for railway works and for the trains which supply the renovation sites.

To balance these different needs, SNCF Réseau is optimising the allocation of train paths according to the type of line and train, and also based on available capacity. The latter refers to the number of trains which can travel at the same time on the same railway segment. This work is done in consultation with the company’s customers in order to build a timetable suited to their needs and adaptable to unexpected events and specific requirements. 

In addition, SNCF Réseau is taking various actions to improve access to the train paths: standard catalogue or customised reservations, last minute train path requests, feasibility studies, dialogue forums, etc.

Finally, with regard to equitable access, the French railway operator ensures careful compliance with the rules defined in the DRR Reference Document.

Moreover, as a result of the railway network reform adopted by the French Parliament in June 2014, the role of the ARAFER (Regulatory Authority for Railway and Road Activities) has been strengthened. This organisation now ensures that all railway companies have a balanced access to the railway network and at a fair price

Discover the different duties of the ARAFER

Making all types of railway travel easier and developing train traffic

Clock-face scheduling also contributes to meeting the many expectations of SNCF Réseau customers. It was launched in 2012 and should be extended to all of France in 2017. This traffic management approach is based on the definition of fixed train times at regular intervals throughout the entire day. Thanks to the simplified organisation of clock-face scheduling, train traffic is coordinated and timetables are easier to understand. Freight traffic is synchronised with passenger trains and, consequently, provides freight with a wider and higher quality choice of train paths, even in peak times.

In addition, SNCF Réseau has made a commitment to the ARAFER to review its pricing system by 2018 at the latest, especially in terms of freight transport. This reform is in particular focused on the application of the DRR Reference Guide. This document is essential for railway companies as it contains (among other information) all pricing policy data required for the operation of trains. In this way, SNCF Réseau aims to develop train traffic

New initiatives are also emerging in favour of more environmentally-friendly freight transport in order to contribute to the fight against global warming, and in this way to support the choice of a decarbonised economy. To this end, in 2009 the French State and SNCF Réseau (formerly known as RFF and SNCF) agreed on a support plan for freight transport  freight transport through the following major initiatives:

  • Creation of regular rail motorway service to allow for the transport of trucks on trains
  • Massive assistance for the development of combined transport
  • Development of local railway operators to serve the transport needs of French regions and port areas through lean and tailored organisation
  • Development of high-speed freight transport between airports (based on the use of high-speed lines for freight transport outside peak passenger travel times)
  • Creation of a freight-priority network whose main aim is freight transport
  • Improvement of rail service for major French ports (an essential condition for their growth) – an important factor for high-volume freight transport