Train prices, EasyJet cancellations: Nine France travel updates

SNCF warns that fares could rise, the possibility of ‘flying ferries’ is considered, Transavia unveils new routes and more

We look at the news affecting travel to, from and around France this week
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We look at the news affecting travel to, from and around France this week.

1. SNCF could put its prices up in 2023

SNCF may have to put ticket prices up in 2023, after keeping them at pre-pandemic levels this year.

This is according to operator CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou, who also contested figures from national statistics institute Insee, which stated that rail transport had increased in price by 12.7% over a year between April 2021 and 2022.

Read more about whether SNCF prices have gone up or down here.

“We respect the figures from Insee, of course, but a better year with which to compare 2022 is 2019,” he said, adding that this would reflect a “drop of 7%”.

“In 2021 there were a lot fewer people travelling on trains and the proportion of discounted prices was higher, which caused average [prices] to fall.”

Looking to the future, Mr Farandou warned: “I do not know if we will be able to maintain these stable prices for much longer, because our costs are rising.

“Energy costs are increasing, we may have to put salaries up [to respond to staff demands], raw material costs are increasing, maintenance costs are increasing,” he added.

“It is still too early to say whether we will be able to keep our policy of very moderate prices beyond 2022. We may be obliged to pass on a proportion of our costs [to customers] from 2023.

“But we are not there yet; we will see how things evolve!”

2. ‘Extremely difficult’ traffic conditions expected on Sunday

Heavy traffic is predicted to affect much of France this weekend, as people use the Ascension Day public holiday on Thursday to faire le pont (make a bridge) to the weekend and take long weekend trips across the country.

Read more:Faire le pont: When are France’s four-day weekends possible?

As holidaymakers all return from their breaks on Sunday (May 29), national traffic forecasting service Bison Futé predicts that conditions will be “extremely difficult”.

Read more:Ascension Day holiday: prepare for heavy traffic on French roads

Drivers are advised to get back into Paris and other big cities by midday to avoid hold-ups.

They should also avoid:

  • The A1 between Senlis and Paris from 15:00 to 19:00
  • The A13 between Caen and Rouen from 09:00 to 15:00 and between Rouen and Paris from 10:00 to 19:00
  • The A81 between Laval and Le Mans from 11:00 to 19:00
  • The N157 between Rennes and Laval from 09:00 to 19:00
  • The A83 between Nantes and Niort from 15:00 to 17:00
  • The A11 between Nantes and Paris from 10:00 to 19:00
  • The N12 between Saint-Brieuc and Rennes from 11:00 to 20:00
  • The A10 between Bordeaux and Poitiers from 09:00 to 16:00 and between Poitiers and Paris from 11:00 to 21:00
  • The A6 between Mâcon and Beaune from 12:00 until 20:00 and between Beaune and Auxerre from 15:00 to 19:00
  • The A7 between Orange and Lyon from 08:00 to 20:00 and between Marseille and Orange from 10:00 to 20:00
  • The A8 between Fréjus and Aix-en-Provence from 10:00 to 20:00
  • The A9 between Narbonne and Orange from 11:00 to 19:00 and between Perpignan and Narbonne from 10:00 to 18:00
  • The A20 between Brive-la-Gaillarde and Vierzon from 11:00 to 17:00
  • The A71 between Bourges and Orléans from 12:00 to 18:00
  • The A75 between Lodève and Millau from 10:00 to 18:00
  • The A61 between Narbonne and Carcassonne from 11:00 to 20:00

People returning to France from Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel should expect delays between 12:00 and 00:00, with the traffic reaching its climax between 17:00 and 21:00.

Further information can be found on the Bison Futé website.

3. Transavia announces four new Paris-Orly routes for winter season

Low-cost airline Transavia will be launching four new routes departing from Paris-Orly for this year’s winter season.

These are:

  • Copenhagen, Denmark, up to twice a week, starting in October
  • Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on Saturdays from November
  • Luxor, Egypt, on Saturdays from October
  • Lulea, Swedish Lapland, once a week, starting in December

Transavia will be the only airline operating this last route.

The airline will also be extending its summer flight schedules to Yerevan (Armenia) from Orly and Dakar (Senegal) from Nantes.

In addition, passengers will also be able to fly from Orly to Eilat in Israel once again, after the route was suspended due to Covid.

Summer flights between Orly and Perpignan, Orly and Pau, Marseille and Lille and Marseille and Rennes will also be extended into the autumn.

“We are delighted to open sales for the winter season 2022,” Transavia said in a statement. “We had our hearts set on offering even more travel possibilities at affordable prices and with the same quality of service.

4. Brittany Ferries follows development of ‘flying ferry’ prototype

Brittany Ferries has said that it is closely following the progress of a ‘flying ferry’ prototype, which could travel from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in just 40 minutes.

The idea was first suggested by the company last year, and the zero-emission vessel is currently being developed by a company based in Boston called Regional Electric Ground Effect Naval Transport (Regent).

The ‘flying ferries’ would skim over the sea, reaching speeds of up to 180mph – six times faster than conventional ferries.

With the vessels expected to enter the market in 2025, Brittany Ferries would aim to launch its first UK-France craft in 2028.

‘Seaglider is an attractive and exciting concept and we look forward to working with Regent in the months and years to come,’ Frédéric Pouget, ports and operations director for Brittany Ferries, told Portsmouth newspaper The News. ‘Who knows; this could be the birth of ferries that fly across the Channel.’

This comes as Brittany Ferries, Plymouth City Council and Associated British Ports seek government funding to upgrade the city’s docklands to make it a “major player” for freight traffic.

Plymouth submitted a successful bid to become a free port in 2021, meaning that goods imported through the port are not subject to tariffs which must normally be paid to the UK government.

5. 200 EasyJet flights cancelled due to software failure

Passengers travelling on 200 different EasyJet services saw their flights cancelled yesterday (May 26), after a temporary software failure.

EasyJet said that the issue mainly affected people travelling between 13:00 and 15:00 on Thursday, but later added that the disruption may last longer. The disruption mainly affected British airports, although some French airports – notably in Paris – were also impacted.

Some flights are still cancelled today, and passengers are advised to check flight trackers to make sure that theirs is still running as normal before travelling to the airport.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and customers can apply for compensation in line with regulations,” the airline said.

6. Ile-de-France Mobilités pledges to improve the air quality in its services

Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) has held a meeting aimed at developing new measures designed to reduce air pollution within its stations.

It has agreed that it must: establish a better understanding of the state of the air within its métros and RER trains, better inform the public of air quality levels, adapt services to reduce emissions and renew existing filtration devices used within them.

Little is known about the air quality in underground stations. “We only know that one of the principal emitters of [harmful] particulates is the braking system of the trains,” said an IDFM spokesperson.

“We have some additional information, but punctuated with a lot of unknowns.

“The aim is to better understand the causes of this pollution, how the particulates are diffused and how they circulate.”

IDFM will call on partner Airparif, an organisation which monitors air quality within the Paris region, to help with these objectives.

It will also replace around 40 ageing ventilators, which will require “a huge investment over the next two years.”

This will come alongside experimentation with new air filtration systems in four RER stations, as well as other measures such as a device designed to trap particulates in the Gare de Lyon (Paris), for example.

7. Barrier toll system to be removed on A13 between Paris and Caen

The toll gates in place on the A13 between Paris and Caen will be gradually removed from 2024, the Société des autoroutes du Nord et de l’Est de la France (Sanef) has announced.

The company has outlined a ‘free flow motorway’ plan, which will enable vehicles to travel the 210km of road between the two cities “without stopping or slowing down”.

This is because car number plates will be detected automatically and drivers will be offered various different payment options. Regular travellers on the route may choose a subscription plan, or save their bank details on their Sanef account so that their card can be debited.

Those who only use the route occasionally, meanwhile, may opt to pay by visiting the Sanef website or by going to one in a list of participating tabacs in the 48 hours after they travel on the toll.

“Free flow…will save time (notably on weekends and days where many people are setting off on holiday), fuel and reduce CO2 emissions,” Sanef said in a statement.

An estimated 120,000 vehicles use the A13 every day, and Sanef believes that removing the toll gates will save drivers a total of 1.8 million hours by reducing the likelihood of hold-ups. This would also mean a saving of 9.5 million litres of fuel.

Work to automatise the toll system will last until 2027 and cost €127million, which will mean a 0.22% rise in the price for users each year until 2024.

8. New study shows potential for domestic French flights to go electric

A new study has shown that several domestic French flight routes could be carried out by electric planes.

Reports suggest that electric aircrafts are capable of travelling for up to 90 minutes on a single charge, meaning that 36 routes could be served by this type of plane in the future.

These include Lyon-Marseille, a journey of 158 miles (254km) which takes 47 minutes. Some 1,200 tonnes of CO2 could be saved over the course of a year by operating electric planes on this route.

Other potential journeys would be Lyon-Toulouse, Paris-Nantes and Paris-Marseille

Short-haul flights have been banned in France where a train or bus alternative taking less than two and a half hours exists.

The full report can be found here.

9. Toulouse aircraft manufacturer unveils hybrid plane model

A new hybrid plane designed to reduce emissions and costs has been developed by aircraft manufacturer ATR.

The EVO can be powered entirely by sustainable fuel (SAF), ATR claims, and uses “innovative technologies allowing for the considerable improvement of the plane’s performance, operational costs and carbon footprint.”

SAF is produced using waste from renewable sources, such as used cooking oil.

Stefano Bortoli, ATR’s chief executive, said that this new plane model will enable the company to “make a step towards responsible aviation,” as it will produce 50% less CO2 if powered by kerosene and close to none if powered by SAF.

The EVO is expected to enter the market in 2023.

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