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SNCF braced for year of job cuts

Rail operator to cut more than 1,400 jobs as passenger numbers fall

THE SNCF is looking to cut 1,432 jobs in the new year as part of a cost-cutting drive caused by falling passenger numbers.

Les Echos financial newspaper says high-speed TGV services - typically the group's most profitable activity - are forecast to decline by 0.3% next year.

Most of the job cuts will be achieved by not replacing staff who resign or retire and the newspaper says the SNCF's freight division will be the worst-affected.

It has also been reported that the SNCF's recently launched low-cost TGV service, Ouigo, which links Montpellier with Marne-la-Vallée near Disneyland Paris, is struggling.

Train occupancy rates are said to be well below target, in the region of 60%, meaning some services are loss-making.

Unions claim more than half of Ouigo users are regular TGV customers who have switched to the cheaper alternative - instead of the service attracting new passengers.

While 2014 will be year of cutbacks for the SNCF, another of France's biggest firms is growing. Hypermarket chain E Leclerc has announced 2,500 new jobs next year.

The recruitment drive is partly funded by a government measure, the credit impôt-competitivité, which allows for reduced social charges on newly created jobs.

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