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German train firm offers competing lines in France

Five new high-speed train line services have been proposed for France by German company FlixTrain, as the country’s rail network prepares to open itself up to competition by 2020-2021.

The proposed services focus on the routes Paris-Nord - Brussels-Nord, Paris-Bercy - Lyon Perrache, Paris-Bercy - Nice (overnight), Paris-Bercy - Toulouse, and Paris-Austerlitz - Bordeaux, according to documents published by transport authority l’Autorité de Régulation des Activités Ferroviaires et Routières (Arafer) this week (Monday June 17).

FlixTrain is part of the FlixMobility group, of which FlixBus is also a branch. It has been running in Germany since April 2018.

It is the only competitor to have proposed a service on these particular routes, despite SNCF having previously talked about having “two offers” from railway operators.

As in Germany, FlixTrain will focus on planning routes and selling tickets, and will work with partners to actually operate the trains. The trains themselves are to be branded with the company’s distinctive bright green logo colour.

Yvan Lefranc-Morin, director general of FlixBus in France, told the Agence France-Presse: “We are not talking about a TGV model, but rather an equivalent offer to Intercités trains, with more affordable prices. From our data, we know that there is strong demand for a good value offer on these lines.”

According to European regulation around private operators of train networks, the company will now have one month to perform an “economic balance test” to prove to Arafer that their service will not compromise the viability of existing train networks, especially regional offer, the TER.

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