Air France and SNCF are to add a raft of new rail-air services to and from Paris CDG and Paris Orly next month.
From July 19 customers will be able to buy single reservation tickets on seven new “train and air” services, as follows:
- Between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Aix-en-Provence TGV, Bordeaux Saint-Jean, Marseille Saint-Charles and Montpellier Saint-Roch
- Between Paris-Orly (via Massy TGV station) and Avignon TGV, Marseille Saint-Charles and Valence TGV
The “train and air” service has several benefits for customers, including a guaranteed seat on the next available flight or train where connecting services are delayed, and the option to earn Flying Blue miles on the rail leg of the journey.
Customers flying in Air France’s La Premiere or business class cabins will also be seated in first class on SNCF services.
The two firms have been operating the “train and air” service for over 25 years, with over 160,000 customers using it each year. It currently covers 11 routes, which will rise to 18 with the new services.
Air France and SNCF also announced trials of a new “fully digitalized service”, for customers departing from Lille Europe and Strasbourg who have a connection on an Air France flight at Paris CDG or Paris Orly.
It allows customers to check-in online for their entire journey, with no need to collect their ticket from the rail station on the day of departure. If successful there are plans to roll out the service across all “train and air routes from 2022”.
When Air France was granted billions of Euros in state aid as a result of Covid-19 last year, the bailout came with several conditions including a reduction in its domestic network to make the carrier more environmentally friendly.
More details on this were recently confirmed, including a ban on domestic flights that can be covered by train in two and half hours, although as our consumer editor Alex McWhirter explained this does not apply to connecting services.
Commenting on the news Vincent Etchebehere, VP Sustainability and New Mobilities – Air France said:
“Air France is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions on its domestic network by 50 per cent by 2024. Regularly enhancing our Train and Air offer allows us to continue to develop intermodality, one of the key elements in meeting this commitment, while offering travel opportunities to the entire world from all French regions.”
Rail-air services are growing in popularity across the continent, with Lufthansa recently expanding its rail-air links at Frankfurt airport, and Etihad expanding air-rail and coach options in Germany, the UK and Italy.
But earlier this month Alex questioned Air France’s sister carrier KLM’s commitment to air-rail, with CEO Pieter Elbers quoted as saying that expanding services “will remain very challenging by the simple fact that it will cost an enormous amount of money”.