SNCF launches coach service

SNCF is set to present its new international coach service – Speed – which is hopes will tempt people out of their cars

3 July 2012

THE SNCF is set for an official launch of its new long distance coach service - ‘Speed’ - today.

Inside sources told Europe 1 the services will then start on July 23.

In a move predicted to herald a new era for coach travel in France, the firm plans to offer relatively low prices and luxury coaches with free wi-fi, large reclining seats and air conditioning.

The SNCF will be using Lille as a hub for the 46 coaches in which it has invested so far. Among the services will be four return trips to London a day, three serving Amsterdam and five for Brussels.

It will take three and a half hours from Paris to Brussels, as opposed to 1h22mins by TGV train. The aim is not to compete on time, but to offer an alternative to the car and those for whom a low price is a priority. It is planned that prices will be fixed and much simpler to understand than those on the trains.

The arrival of the new service – as well as others like a subsidiary of UK-owned Stagecoach, Megabus (see June’s Connexion) – is putting coach travel in the spotlight. Previously seen by many as old-fashioned, and associated with school trips or tours for the elderly, it is tipped to become more in demand.

The French commercial director for heavyweight operator Eurolines (see interview in this month’s Connexion), Nicolas Boutaud, has stated: “We are convinced that coach transport is going to develop nationally and internationally – it’s a cost-effective way of travelling.”

Another new service, Starshipper, starts on Friday, linking Lyon and Turin via Chambéry (Savoie) and run by regional company Couriers Rhodaniens.
© Antony McAulay -

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