SNCF needs to focus more on its customersBack to Forum
UK rail may have its faults but when things go wrong fellow TOCs step in to assist.
That can even apply when there’s flight disruption … witness LNER’s recent offer to carry stranded air travellers free of charge.
But things are different in mainland Europe where, for one reason or another, the state-owned rail operators lack customer focus.
Some days ago a landslide blocked the main Paris-Milan route. Through France-Italy trains are cancelled until further notice.
One might think SNCF would assist its ticketed customers by working with other national operatots to provide re-routing possibilities. But the answer is no.
As Mark Smith reports in today’s tweet an SNCF passenger might have paid Euros 29 for this ticket but is now faced with paying Euros 170.
Rail Passenger Rights need strengthening. With the Paris-Milan line blocked, @SNCFConnect need to get people home by alternative routes at no extra charge. Refunding a €29 ticket & expecting people to pay €170 to get home on SNCF’s other routes & trains is not acceptable. https://t.co/zWsw6DVMaf
— The Man in Seat 61 (@seatsixtyone) August 30, 202331 Aug 2023
Shortly after I posted the above one of my twitter followers advised me of the EU rules regarding passenger rights within the EU.
It is clear that SNCF could do more to help.31 Aug 2023
Reports from France indicate the Paris-Turin-Milan route (the main Franco Italian rail route) will remain closed for two months.
Its closure does not affect Paris=Lyon.
This route is well patronised by business travellers and is served by SNCF and Trenitalia.
Both rail firms continue not to honour EU passenger rights. This shows how far the rail operators lag behind air when it comes to customer service.
Both will, at time of writing, only provide a refund. No offer to reroute and this means, unless customers fly, the cost of a lengthy rail reroute is high.
Long and detailed piece in Le Figaro [FR] explains the situation.
1 user thanked author for this post.1 Sep 2023
This might be the biggest negative with train operations. Flights go over the mountains; trains have to go through them. Flights have alternate airports or airfields; smaller craft landing on motorways or farm fields; trains are slaves to their tracks and stations.8 Sep 2023
What SNCF could have done in this case, bearing in mind the line is expected to be closed for two months, is to have negotiated ‘rescue’ fares with SBB (Swiss Rail).
Because TGV reservations are mandatory SNCF has a good idea of how to contact affected customers.
Rescue fares would cover Milan to a Swiss city with SBB.
From these Swiss cities affected travellers would proceed to Paris with TGV Lyria (a JV between SNCF and SBB).8 Sep 2023
Some good news.
SNCF Connect tells me it “has set up a solution from Paris to Milan via Switzerland or South of France (Nice/Ventiglia.”
Details of the “solution” were not made available to me.
Readers affacted by the line closure must now make contact with SNCF.12 Sep 2023