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Motorway tax for loss-making trains

Road tolls, domestic air travel and TGV tickets could be made more expensive to plug €200m loss on Corail train routes

THE COST of motorway, air and TGV travel could rise in the new year to help bail out France's loss-making regional train lines.

The government is looking to impose a new one per cent tax on road tolls, domestic airline tickets and high-speed train fares.

Proceeds from the new tax will be paid to the SNCF to fund its Corail, Téoz, Intercités and sleeper train services, which between them lose about €200m a year.

The rail operator says only four of the long-distance non-TGV lines are profitable: Paris to Clermont Ferrand, Toulouse, Le Havre and Cherbourg.

The new funding agreement will last at least three years - less than the five requested by the SNCF.

It will be discussed further this autumn and, if approved, should come into effect on January 1.

The difference to train passengers should be small: the tax will add less than €1 to the average one-way TGV ticket.

Transport users' body Fnaut said it made sense that car users should help finance public transport.

Group president Jean Sivardière told Europe 1: "With so many motorists on the roads, you only need to increase toll fees a little bit and you're able to bring in substantial sums."

However, the bailout has been criticised by some of the SNCF's potential new rivals, including Deutsche Bahn and Veolia, which are considering launching their own services in France.

They argue that any state aid for the SNCF would be incompatible with European competition rules.

Related story:
State bailout considered for trains

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