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SNCF to reduce Paris-Normandy trains from Monday due to ‘home working’

The decision has been criticised by a Normandy train association, who say that reducing the number of trains will not encourage more people to use them

Trains in Normandy are on average 46% full, far below the 60% required to make the service financially viable, SNCF states Pic: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

There will be a reduction in the number of trains running on three routes between Normandy and Paris from Monday (March 28), with the region looking to cut down on services with few passengers. 

The routes affected are:

  • Paris-Caen-Cherbourg
  • Trouville Deauville - Paris St-Lazare
  • Paris-Rouen-Le Havre

The services affected will be daytime and weekday trains with an average occupancy rate of 20 to 30%, while morning and evening trains with an occupancy rate of less than 50% will run 20 minutes later, Le Figaro reported

The weekend services will remain unchanged. 

The Normandy region and SNCF said the changes were necessary due to an increase in people working from home and the coronavirus pandemic generally affecting travel. 

“The pandemic led to a drop in passenger numbers on the Normandy lines of 24% by the end of 2021, and we estimate numbers are down 10% for 2022 compared to 2019,” the region and train line stated in a press release. 

It also notes that on average, trains in Normandy are 46% full, far below the 60% required to make the service financially viable. 

Passenger union opposes cuts

An association for passengers using the Paris-Cherbourg route, the Union Des Usagers du Paris Cherbourg, has criticised the move. 

“These cancellations concern three very busy lines, which represent 64% of the total revenue of the Normandy network, 29% for the Paris-Caen-Cherbourg route alone,” it stated. 

“We will end up with gaps of several hours between trains, which makes it very difficult to make round trips in a single day.”

From Monday, if a passenger starting their journey in Cherbourg misses their 12:43 train to Paris Saint-Lazare, they will have to wait until 17:43 for the next one. 

“The Normandy region complains that not enough passengers use its lines,” the UDUPC stated. 

“However, with health restrictions being lifted and fuel prices rising, it is not by removing trains that we will make people want to use them. It is really a decision against the times. 

“We consider that the justification put forward [by SNCF and the region] hides a financial argument because this reduction in traffic will above all allow savings to be made on the management of the train equipment, in a region where the trains are often more than forty years old,” the UDUPC stated. 

Normandy’s current rail network, excluding its high-speed train lines (LGVs), is the second oldest in France at around 35 years, behind Centre-Val-de-Loire’s network, which is now over 40 years old. 

Jean-Baptiste Gastinne, vice-president of the Normandy Region in charge of transport, defended decisions about the rail network, saying “the investments we have made since 2016 have made it possible to reinforce the reliability of the rail service".

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