We have seen Air France receive €7 billion in state aid.

Now it looks like France’s rail operator SNCF is in line to be compensated for a loss of €2 billion in revenue thanks to the country’s lockdown.

SNCF says it might need state aid. Quoted by radio station France Inter, SNCF’s CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou said:

“The virus, for the moment, means we’re missing about €2 billion in revenue. It wouldn’t be abnormal to think of an aid plan for the SNCF.”

As readers who travel in France can testify, last year SNCF had an endless number of strikes lasting several months.

In December alone the strikes cost SNCF €690 million in lost revenue according to IRJ.

Over the years SNCF has accumulated huge losses which must be the highest of any European national rail operator.

SNCF’s current debt (before Covid-19) was estimated to be €50 billion. The French state intends to absorb some of this amount.

Speaking in 2018 President Macron said:

“We have an SNCF that is 30 per cent less efficient than its European counterparts. The state has not underinvested but sometimes it has invested badly. The goal is to have a stronger SNCF that provides better services.”

Germany’s Flixtrain (an open access operator) was hoping to compete with SNCF on a number of routes. But it has now abandoned its plans as we reported last month.