SNCF obtains first batch of ter Open to competition by Hauts-de-France region

The historic operator was in competition with Transdev, a subsidiary of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, for the services of the Lot “Star of Amiens”.

by Luc Bronner

The decision was expected with as much fear as impatience by railway unions and SNCF. The first of the four prizes of regional express trains (TER) open to competition by the Hauts-de-France region, that of the “Star of Amiens” was awarded to the SNCF, the historic operator, in competition with Transdev, a subsidiary of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations.

According to our information, which confirms those published by Mobiletttre, a specialized publication, the decision of the region, organizing authority for transport, was notified on Wednesday 1 er March, SNCF. It concerns services around the star of Amiens, or 17 % of the TER supply in the region, for a period of nine years, from the end of 2024.

The allocation of this first lot by the Hauts-de-France region was particularly sensitive. The regions must indeed, in application of European rules, open their rail services to competition within ten years from the end of 2023. However, the relations between the region and the SNCF had been strongly set in the past two years , due to the very numerous delays and the cuts of trains. The degradation of the quality of service, caused in particular by the lack of train drivers, had led the president of the region, Xavier Bertrand, temporarily suspending the payment of the sums due to the SNCF for the exploitation of the lines.

“We pay half a billion euros per year for a service that is not rendered as it should be,” said Bertrand, in September 2022, to the world. The region was annoyed to note that the SNCF made profits on Hauts-de-France, while, at the same time, the penalties due in compensation for delays were capped. Faced with the lack of drivers, the SNCF had to temporarily reduce its offer at the end of 2022 and renewed its promise to recruit and train new agents in 2023.

under pressure

The region highlights the interest of negotiation with the SNCF under pressure of competition even if, in the end, the public company won. “If the current operator has won the” Star of Amiens “lot, the opening mechanism for competition has enabled the Region to integrate a number of binding provisions into the specifications that will be imposed in SNCF Travelers at the beginning of the farm, “reports a source close to negotiations, within the region. “They had to accept what they had refused when there was no competition,” notes an elected official.

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/Media reports cited above.