SNCF faces reform

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Huit-Six 28 Feb 2018
at 02:20
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  • AMcWhirter
    Participant

    I expect this news has not been covered by UK’s mainstream media.

    Today there is much discussion in France because the govt wants to shake-up state-owned SNCF and prepare it for competition.

    A report has been published on the future of SNCF.

    In short, it means SNCF will have to face competition (presumably from private rail firms as there is already competition from air and from bus companies) and there will be Beeching-style cutbacks of little-used regional routes.

    France is unique in Europe, it’s been reported, because 15 per cent of rail funding goes to support routes that carry only 2 per cent of passengers.

    If the report’s recommendations are put into practice I think we will see SNCF’s workers taking industrial action.

    Details from Railway Gazette.

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/analysis/single-news/view/spinetta-report-urges-sncf-to-prepare-for-competition.html


    StephenLondon
    Participant

    I wish Jean-Cyril Spinetta the best of luck. He has not seemed to have reformed AF much (other than cutting back on in-flight and ground service), and I very much doubt the state employees will be the ‘principal actors’ in renewing the national railway. They have gotten away with doing so little for so long for a decent wage, why should they do anything other than maintain status quo? On recent rain journeys in Italy and France, the French regional trains were by far the worst…truly vile, with filthy carriages, lights/lavatories that did not work, dirty windows and staff that couldn’t give one hoot, let alone two. On the flip-side, the Italian trains (including regional ones) were clean, on-time, had friendly crew (who were multi-lingual)…chalk compared to the SNCF’s rotting fromage.


    capetonianm
    Participant

    This reply has been reported for inappropriate content.

    French enterprises in France can never be competitive or make a profit due to French labour laws, socialism, and the death grip of the unions. On the other hand, freed of those restrictions when they operate outside France, they are generally very successful.

    Oddly though, I have an opposite view to StephenLondon. French regional trains are indeed pretty scruffy but the Italian regionals are the ones I would call “truly vile, with filthy carriages, lights/lavatories that did not work, dirty windows”. I base this on recent journeys in and out of Milano Centrale on Trenord. You could smell the lavatories from the opposite end of the carriage, the stations looked like bomb sites, and as we were the only white people on the trains, we were the only ones whom the staff asked for tickets as they are apparently frightened to ask the invaders from Africa and the Middle East for their authorities to travel.

    The fares are ridiculously cheap and I’m told that less than 50% of the passengers pay. No wonder there is no investment in the infrastructure.

    There is no hope for reform of SNCF/AF or other French parastatals until the unions are reined in.


    Alex McWhirter
    Participant

    The rail unions are now planning a day of action on March 22. But unclear now what form this will take.

    Unions defiant in face of threats to French rail network


    LuganoPirate
    Participant

    Bon chance M. Spinetta. Bet it doesn’t happen though. And if they put the fares up to acquiesce to the demands of the unions, the traveling public will revolt.
    I once came back from Metz and took a regional train. The First Class carriage was almost empty until Strasbourg when it just filled up totally. I later learnt that on regional trains you can sit in First even with a second class ticket!


    SwissExPat
    Participant

    I have never understood how french workers are more productive that british workers? But it is true!

    https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/jul/13/french-workers-more-productive-brits


    Huit-Six
    Participant

    French enterprises in France can never be competitive or make a profit due to French labour laws, socialism, and the death grip of the unions.

    Although their is some truth there, I think it is much more complicated than that. Many French companies are successful in France, all the world’s problems cannot be solved by liberalism (just like it also cannot be solved by communism or what not).

    I will not dignify your comments about “invaders from Africa and the Middle East” with a reply, I’d just like to point out that it is totally false as I recently travelled by train around Rome and found none of this to be true. Same in France: tickets are being checked, regardless of origins or skin colour… Capetonianm: time to rid yourself of apartheid mentality my friend.

    Now about the SNCF reform, since this is in fact the topic, I think it is hopeless. Just like many things in France: waste of time, without hope… chose your wording, it’s all the same. Why, you ask?

    Well firstly because it is state-owned: many employees at the SNCF have a job status where they simply cannot be fired or layed off, regardles how ineficcient they are. Many of these ‘cheminots’ have benefits which were nogociated decades ago when working conditions were very different from what they are now and their priority #1 is to maintain these benefits, regardless of any other considerations. You want to change anything: they’ll go on strike and paralyse the country until you give up.

    Secondly because the French railway is in a terrible situation: the network management part of the SNCF (SNCF Reseau) has a debt of 46 BILLION EUROS. Who is going to pay that off? Certainly not the Government, that is a PR nightmare. Worst part is that this debt is getting bigger by about 3 Billion Euros a year. The only parts of the Network which actually make money are really small, the vast majority of the network would be totally cut off if the autorities were to simply see if yes or no they are financially sustainable.

    Thirdly because transport modes have drastically changed over the past few decades: people use individual cars, car sharing, coaches more than in the past. Due to this, passengers needs have shifted and the company has not adapted well to this. The train tickets have continuously gone up and the quality (and frequency) of service has not stopped going down.

    I could go on and on as French rail topic is a vast one, I do beleive there are very few countries in the world where the issues faced are comparable to that of France. I wish the French authorities would look at Germany and see what works there and what can be adapted in France to put the SNCF back on the right tracks. I recently travelled extensively all over Germany, taking U-Bahns, S-Bahns, ICs, ICEs as well as smaller, private-run trains and I can only applaud the system: even when things fail (as they often do, unfortunately) the system is so much better managed than in France…


    kevin46
    Participant

    “and as we were the only white people on the trains, we were the only ones whom the staff asked for tickets as they are apparently frightened to ask the invaders from Africa and the Middle East for their authorities to travel.”

    Not racist…much!


    capetonianm
    Participant

    I will not dignify your comments about “invaders from Africa and the Middle East” with a reply,

    Calling them immigrants implies that they immigrated legally.

    They didn’t.

    Many are not refugees in a true sense.
    Invaders is a fair description of people who cross borders illegally.

    I’d just like to point out that it is totally false as I recently travelled by train around Rome and found none of this to be true. Same in France: tickets are being checked, regardless of origins or skin colour… Capetonianm: time to rid yourself of apartheid mentality my friend

    My comment based on when I travelled on Trenord from and to Milan. Fact, not perception, and nothing to do with apartheid but it’s always easy to pull out the race card. You might not have done that if my username had been ‘Glaswegian’ but you took the opportunity to have a cheap shot.


    Alex McWhirter
    Participant

    If travelling by SNCF in and around France next month be aware that a strike has been announced for March 22.

    French rail union calls for indefinite rail strike


    capetonianm
    Participant

    French rail unions vow to strike as Macron axes workers’ privileges

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/26/french-rail-unions-vow-strike-macron-axes-workers-privileges/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AqRBF0d3yNZy

    Nothing to to worry about, as the government will back down as usual.


    Huit-Six
    Participant

    […] and nothing to do with apartheid but it’s always easy to pull out the race card. You might not have done that if my username had been ‘Glaswegian’ but you took the opportunity to have a cheap shot.

    You’re absolutely right, I did take a cheap shot because I don’t want to get into this debate with you (or anyone else for that matter), I just found your comment so narrow-minded and appalling. How do you know ‘non-whites’ are necessarily illegal immigrants? This is a rhetorical question, no need to answer.

    Nothing to to worry about, as the government will back down as usual.

    Agree with you there, many of the issues that France is facing today is not new, it’s just that previous Governments have refused to go ahead with their planned reforms (regardless if these reforms would have been successful or not, that’s a different topic) due to mass strikes, protests etc.

    Basically the problem is the standstill situation: governments lack ‘balls’ to do anything and syndicates/labour unions call for strike as soon as any change is planned.

    French people are fed up with this and a minority of people are blocking any possible change, but nobody does anything.

    President Macron will have to do something about this and if he doesn’t want to be seen as laxist (especially after the recent abandon of the new Nantes Airport project) he cannot back down.

    Interesting to see what will happen, I’m happy I’m not planning to go to France anytime soon as there will be massive strikes for sure…

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