Despite the coronavirus crisis, SNCF managed to achieve its goal and welcomed more than 20 million travelers in July and August. However, several uncertainties still persist for the railway company.
SNCF has limited the breakage this summer despite the epidemic, with more than 20 million travelers in July and August, but the start of the school year remains “full of uncertainties”, indicates in an interview with AFP the CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, Christophe Fanichet.
Christophe Fanichet said at the beginning of July to target the 20 million travelers on his trains during “this unprecedented summer” marked by the coronavirus crisis, against 25 million last year. “We will do a little more”, he notes.
On the main lines, the SNCF will have transported 18 million people in July and August. The decrease is 15% compared to last year, when management feared -20%. In detail, 16 million people took the TGV – including 4 million low-cost Ouigo trains, a figure up 10% – and 2 million the Intercités.
Departures at the last minute –the ticket purchased during the week– represented “more than 60% of our sales”, notes the CEO. As for regional trains, they transported between 2 and 3 million people. “We found three out of four travelers in the TER,” he notes. Transilien (the suburb of Ile-de-France) is not included in the calculation. “We wanted to meet the French after this period of confinement, and we made small prices”, he recalls.
Among the most popular destinations, we note Marseille, Bordeaux and Lyon for the main lines, while the TER were the most popular in Occitania, ahead of PACA, New Aquitaine and Brittany. As for international relations, “we are between -60 and -80%”, England (with Eurostar) being the destination most affected by the crisis, deplores the CEO of SNCF Voyageurs. “
What worries me is the start of the school year, which is full of uncertainties, ”explains Christophe Fanichet. “How are the French going to resume daily transport?” He asks. “Today, I have no indicator that allows me to see it”.
Formulas for teleworkers
Another cause for concern, “the return of business travel” which represents 40% of TGV turnover, while teleworking seems to be becoming commonplace and trade fairs and major events are canceled one after the other. “On professionals today, visibility is very, very low. In September, the reservation figures are very low, although there is a lot of space and the trains are running ”.
The SNCF is considering new subscription formulas for teleworkers who only take the train twice a week, as the PACA region has just decided for its TER. “We are looking at what are the expectations of the French in their mobility, post-Covid”, notes Christophe Fanichet.
“Continue to make the French travel”
In the short term, the company is selling off its loyalty cards. But she has yet to decide whether she will continue to exchange and refund all tickets for free – a measure currently in effect until August 31. Christophe Fanichet prefers not to dwell on the financial results of the summer, while insufficient filling rates and low prices have undoubtedly made most TGVs run at a loss. “We’ll do the accounts later,” he says. “Our objective is to continue to make the French travel!” And the train is safe in this time of pandemic, he said.
“The policy that has been put in place with the general wearing of masks and the disinfection of trains has proved its effectiveness,” since no problem has been identified, he said. The SNCF, which estimates the wearing of the mask “between 90% and 95%”, employed more than 5,000 additional people, external service providers, to clean and disinfect its trains.
The number of “blue vests” responsible for cleaning trains during the trip has in particular tripled, notes Christophe Fanichet.