France - Articles and news items

Realising railway ambitions

Issue 1 2017 / 31 January 2017 /

Today the French railway manufacturing industry has to contend with two major challenges: sustaining a high level of activity in the rolling stock manufacturing sector and modernising the national rail infrastructure network. Jean-Pierre Audoux , Director General of the French Railway Industry Association (FIF), takes a look at the current situation and what lies ahead.

Newly-designed TGV Océane train enters service between Paris & South West France

Rail industry news / 12 December 2016 /

SNCF has introduced the newly-designed Océane trains on the route between Paris-Montparnasse station and Bordeaux and Toulouse in South West France.

We’re competitors – why should we cooperate?

Issue 6 2016 / 23 November 2016 /

In this article Nicolas Jachiet, President of Fer de France, considers the challenges and hindrances the European rail industry might face in the years to come. He writes that we must reinvent rail to make it more agile, attractive and competitive; a requirement to ensure the continued existence of the industry.

Additional Coradia Polyvalent trains for Midi-Pyrénées region

Rail industry news / 6 August 2015 /

Alstom is to supply eight additional Régiolis or Coradia Polyvalent trains to the Midi-Pyrénées region following an initial order for 25 trains in 2009.

SNCF reveals plan to transform Gare du Nord by 2023

Rail industry news / 25 June 2015 /

Major plans to redevelop Gare du Nord in Paris were revealed at a high profile SNCF press conference attended by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

The French railway reform and other European policy matters

Issue 6 2014 / 3 December 2014 /

2014 may not have run its full course quite yet, but it has already been marked in France by the adoption of the French railway system reform in early-August, therefore heralding the advent of a new public-sector organisation englobing SNCF and the infrastructure manager set-up in 1997, RFF (Réseau ferré de France). Jean-Pierre Audoux – Director General of the French Railway Industry Association (FIF) – outlines the key elements in this controversial decision and the factors going forward to ensure success is delivered in the longterm, plus commenting on the other work the FIF is involved with on several strategic European policy issues…

CEVA: Connecting Switzerland and France

Issue 4 2014 / 5 August 2014 /

CEVA is the acronym for the 16km-long Cornavin–Eaux-Vives–Annemasse rail link project connecting Switzerland and France. It is a project stepped in history which dates back as long ago as 1850. Following many false starts, political disagreements, citizen complaints and objections which went all the way to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, the project finally given the go-ahead and construction of the link got underway with a ground-breaking ceremony in November 2011. The project plays a crucial mobility role for the almost one million people living in the Greater Geneva agglomeration; it is seen as a much-needed link to improve mobility in Geneva and provide a cross-border connection to France. Antoine Da Trindade – Managing Director for CEVA – provides more details about this project which is estimated to cost approximately CHF 1.5 billion (for the Swiss sections) and is expected to be finished by 2019…

RFF’s impressive rail network modernisation plan

Issue 6 2013 / 4 December 2013 /

On 15 October 2012, Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) was ordered by Transport Minister, Frédéric Cuvillier, to table proposals to deliver major rail network modernisation (GPMR). Delivered to the Minister on 19 September 2013, the plan proposed is consistent with efforts to create a shared, long-term vision for rail transportation. According to the plan, €15 billion are to be earmarked for the network – in other words €2.5 billion per year – while a further €2.3 billion are to be specifically devoted to maintenance. But modernisation plans are not an exercise in allocating funds. The aim of the proposals set out in the GPMR is to lay the foundations for a new methodical approach to the network, where user requirements are central to the works scheduling rationale. The plan is, therefore, inextricably linked with the creation of a fully-fledged infrastructure manager and an integrated industrial public-sector group. The purpose of this article is to highlight the key principles that will shape network renewal and modernisation in the coming years.
New approach to network maintenance and modernisation – key principles

Ambitions for the French rail network over the next 10 years are running high, with the dual target being to put the network back on track on a sound and lasting basis, both financially and technically, and to rise to a multiplicity of overarching challenges (safety, traffic regularity and growth, simplifying train usage, shift towards renewable energies, etc.). To cater to these challenges, a new approach to network maintenance and modernisation is a ‘must’.

RFF: First lessons learned from its four PPPs

Issue 6 2012 / 27 November 2012 /

Railway investment requires long-term funding. Sometimes the State will choose to take direct ownership or may even prefer to transfer all or part of the responsibility and risk to the private sector. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) can offer a highly flexible way of combining public and private funding.

These highly flexible approaches include:

The terms of the contract reflect the extent of the business risk that the public sector wishes to transfer to the private sector. Part nership contracts delegate the task of designing, financing, building and operating specific infrastructure in return for payments to be made throughout the operating period. With a concession, the private sector takes on not only the above risks but also the business risk.
The length of the contractual period reflects the extent of the maintenance risk trans ferred. In the rail sector, contracts in excess of 30 years are synonymous with transfer to the private sector of the risks inherent in track renewal.

The life-cycle of railway infrastructure is long and the risk of obsolescence sufficiently small to make private debt a realistic option, even on the basis of relatively small net assets.

The FIF in the new French railway environment

Issue 6 2012 / 27 November 2012 /

My article in European Railway Review Issue 6 2011 outlined the prospect of a French railway system reform. This subject is still at the forefront of discussions within the industry and so constitutes the main topic of this article.

This agenda must be viewed against the backdrop of a very tough economic climate and of a new political landscape created by the election of a new President of the Republic, a new government and a new parliamentary majority.

Since taking office, the newly-appointed ministerial teams have initiated a review of the planned major transport projects (including railway-related projects) which will impact the regeneration of the country.

The government has confirmed its determination to unveil the main guidelines of the necessary and eagerly-awaited reform of the French railway system. As a result, the French railway industry, and of course the FIF, are challenged by a new situation of crucial importance for the sector’s future.

The reassessment of the major rail transport infrastructure projects will be a decisive factor for the next 30 years.

RFF to invest 3.4 billion euro in the rail network in 2012

Rail industry news / 24 September 2012 /

Implementation of the conclusions of the national rail consultation will create 25,000 jobs…

Vossloh awarded megacontract for high-speed line in France

Rail industry news / 22 September 2012 /

Contract worth around €60 million for Vossloh Switch Systems and Vossloh Fastening Systems…