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SNCF considering 'low-cost' model

French rail operator to take leaf out of budget airlines' books with more flexible pricing on TGV services from 2012

THE SNCF is considering the introduction of a new low-cost ticketing model for all of its long-distance TGV services from 2012.

According to Les Echos, the French rail operator wants to offer more flexible pricing to improve the efficiency of TGV services and increase turnover by 28% between now and 2015.

One senior SNCF source told the paper that the TGV system was "in crisis" - with a third of routes expected to be loss-making next year - and said the pricing model needed to be "revolutionised".

The new model will be based on the idTGV scheme, which offers e-ticketing and low prices for early bookings on a number of key routes.

Flexible pricing would prepare the operator for the arrival of new competition in the French rail market, with Trenitalia, Deutsche Bahn and Veolia all showing an interest in running rival services.

As part of the proposed changes, the SNCF will ask the government to relax rules that currently require the rail company to reserve a certain number of seats on every train for large families, politicians and army workers.

It also wants to negotiate cheaper fees with Reseau Ferré de France, the rail track operator that charges the SNCF to run trains on the network.

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