One of the defining features of French train travel is coming to an end as SNCF reveals it is getting rid of 3,000 ticket stamping machines from its stations from this year onwards.
Validating your ticket (composter votre billet) ahead of boarding a train used to be a requirement of travel but as ticketing has gradually moved online the distinctive yellow terminals are becoming redundant.
Nine out of 10 rail tickets are now paperless, BFM reports, and SNCF can no longer justify the expense of maintaining machines for the remaining 10% of passengers.
Of the 3,000 terminals to disappear, 725 are for TGV and Intercity trains and 2,468 for TER trains.
"More than 99% of TGV-Intercity tickets are now digital. On TER, only 4% of tickets still need to be stamped,” said SNCF.
“In short, depending on the line, 96% to 99% of tickets are now digital.”
In 2021, SNCF stopped issuing full-sized card TGV or Intercity tickets at self-service machines, replacing them with a ‘facturette’ similar to a till receipt, which shows the passenger’s name, seat number and a QR code for scanning by the train conductor.
Tickets are now usually valid for a specific date of travel, rather than two months as in the past, which necessitated them being stamped at machines to stop passengers from using them multiple times.
From this month (January), the phasing out of individual stamping machines will be flagged by a stickered message on the machine itself.
"To avoid any misunderstanding or surprise, customers will be informed of the end of ticket stamping,” SNCF said.
“Consumer associations have already been informed of this project.”
Customers who still have a paper ticket will have to present themselves to the conductor when boarding the train to have the ticket validated.
"If the customer does not present themself, the conductor will remind them of the procedure when he or she passes through the passenger's carriage", said the operator.