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Track row may hit Christmas trains

SNCF says it is waiting for 500 winter timetable slots to be confirmed and ticket sales are affected

HUNDREDS of train services could have to be cancelled in December if a disagreement between the SNCF and rail track owners is not resolved.

The SNCF has complained to Reseau Ferré de France (RFF) that it has still not received confirmation of more than 500 departure slots in the new winter timetable, which comes into force on December 13.

The area around Briançon, which is popular with winter ski tourists, is particularly badly affected.

The SNCF writes to RFF, which owns France's 30,000km of tracks, at the beginning of each year with its route plans for the following year. According to Libération, the slots are normally confirmed by June.

In a letter seen by the newspaper, the SNCF's head of strategy, David Azéma, warns of a shortage of departures in the weeks leading up to Christmas if the schedule is not confirmed soon.

The rail operator says it has been unable to start selling December tickets on a number of popular routes because of the uncertainty.

This is the latest in a series of rows between the SNCF and RFF. The rail operator has publicly complained in recent months about the fees charged by RFF and the state of the network.

RFF says it has replied to the SNCF to explain the situation. The company has committed itself to spending €10bn on renovation work on the network this year.

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