when the SNCF puts a spoke in the wheels of its competitors

Aurélien Fleurot, edited by Laura Laplaud

Already in competition with the Italians of Trenitalia, the SNCF now sees the arrival on the French rail network of the Spanish company Renfe. Its tests began on Monday on the Barcelona-Lyon and Madrid-Marseille lines. But Renfe, which intends to launch its commercial offer before the summer of 2023, finds itself confronted with the SNCF, which does not facilitate its arrival.

A third high-speed train operator on French rails? After Trenitalia, make way for the Spanish company Renfe, which launched its tests on Monday for the Barcelona-Lyon and Madrid-Marseille lines. Renfe, which had long shown its intention to arrive on the French market, notes that if the competition is open, it remains an obstacle course to achieve it. In question: the incumbent operator, the SNCF, which does not make things easier.

Show stubbornness

Renfe has not been helped by the health crisis or by the many regulatory steps to be taken. Without ever speaking of sticks in the wheels, Trenitalia, the first competitor to arrive in France, has often insisted on the stubbornness that had to be shown. There is certainly a bit of nostalgia for the monopoly among some executives of the incumbent operator, explains Gilles Dansart, director of Mobilettre. “The SNCF RĂ©seau has taken steps to welcome new entrants because European rules require it. On the other hand, on the material approval side, small details relating to safety, it will be more complicated because old habits rather on the side of SNCF Voyageurs which continue.”

The same is true for young companies embarking on the rail industry. The Le Train company, which wants to offer high-speed regional connections, regretted the time lost in wanting to buy used trains from the SNCF. Negotiations are still ongoing, but this new operator will probably not be able to start before 2025.