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SNCF looking to buy 40 TGVs

The company had previously considered replacing its TGVs too expensive, but thinks the time may now be ripe

THE SNCF is in discussions over the possible purchase of up to 40 new TGV trains from French train builder Alstom.

Each train costs €30 million – a total bill of €1.2 billion; costs that had previously meant the firm had ruled out new purchases in the near term. However it is now looking at replacing its oldest trains.

The announcement comes as SNCF has negotiated to limit rises to the tolls for the use of the tracks.

It pays Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) for the use of the tracks – half a billion euros from 2008-2011. After RFF said that it would be raising the fee by 7% again in 2012-2013 it has agreed that in 2014-18 rises will be moderated by a tighter link to “rail inflation”, that is actual annual rises in associated costs (maintenance, metals etc).

The purchase of the new TGVs has also partly been made possible by the fact that the SNCF has positive cashflow for the first time since 2007. It says this is due to good performance by its Infra maintenance branch and Proximités (local trains). Its freight business has been least profitable.

In general SNCF president Guillaume Pépy has described the annual accounts for 2011 as “good and promising”. Turnover increased by 5.8%, though actual profit was down significantly, due to the company having undertaken a depreciation of its assets in relation to its TGV trains.

One TGV train (une rame) consists of eight carriages plus engines at each end. The SNCF has about 500 TGV trains, of an average age of 17.

Photo: Sébastien Terfloth

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