Empty railway stations in France being revived ‘need ticket offices’

SNCF is renewing efforts on a scheme to revive working but empty railway stations, which has been running for several years now, without effecting much change

17 August 2021

Many stations in France have fallen into neglect and there is no ticket office nor machine at half of France’s 2,918 TER stations Pic: Pierre-Olivier / Shutterstock

SNCF is offering rental opportunities for businesses and community projects – but has been criticised because it is impossible to buy tickets at many of them.

SNCF suggests start-ups, surgeries, shops and libraries as some of the ways unstaffed, rundown stations could be transformed into local assets again. See 1001gares.fr.

The scheme has been running for several years now, without effecting much change.

Many stations have fallen into neglect and there is no ticket office nor machine at half of France’s 2,918 TER stations.

The government says it plans to allow tickets to be sold in mairies and other venues, such as shops, cafes and bars, but this has been criticised by Défenseur des droits, the independent administrative body set up to safeguard citizens’ rights.

Marc Loiselle, its director of public affairs, said: “It is a good idea to improve stations but if people can’t buy tickets, what is the point?

“Alternatives, like buying tickets in a shop or a cafe, cannot replace ticket offices, and for longer, more complex journeys, passengers might need advice.

“Until 2019, passengers could buy a ticket on the train but this is no longer possible without paying extra. Today, passengers taking trains from unstaffed stations are expected to have purchased their tickets online in advance – but not all passengers have mobile phones, bank accounts with cards and internet access.

“This is inadmissible. We want to see ticket offices, or at least ticket machines, in all stations.”

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