SNCF traffic still in recovery period

Published on Jan. 2022 at 15: 39Updated 14 Jan. 2022 at 15: 50

The year 2021 saw SNCF traffic increase compared to the Bérézina by 2020 and the first confinement, but the public operator has not yet returned to its pre-crisis level. Last year, the company transported 23 % more passengers per compared to 2020, i.e. slightly less than 900 million trips all networks combined.

This is still down by 29% compared to a normal exercise, which represents some 1, 2 billion annual customers, said Friday the CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, Christophe Fanichet. The year 50, which had been marked in December by the beginning of the longest strike in the history of the group, was not an absolute record either.

Influence of health constraints

According to the leader, the demand for transport and mobility of the French is hardly in doubt. But, he adds, “2021 was very mixed: when the health constraints are weak, the travelers are there; as soon as they apply, they are less present, or even disappear. And it is extremely fast”.

In detail, from one year to the next, main line traffic (TGV and Intercités) grew by 37% in one year, but remains behind 23 % compared to its pre-covid level. That of TERs in the regions increased by 15% over the year, and the volume of passengers on the Transilien lines increased by 21 %.

The traffic of the last Christmas holidays, with more than 5.5 million journeys was “almost that of a normal year”, notes Christophe Fanichet, despite the damage of a strike notice from 3 unions on the south-east network , lifted in extremis. The new Avantage loyalty card, launched before the summer and which gives access to capped low fares, shortly before departure, was purchased by 3 million customers, including 2 million this year. A good incentive for the volumes transported, less for unit revenue per passenger.

Misdirected curves

The CEO of the group, Jean-Pierre Farandou, has already indicated that the financial results 2021 will result in a new loss, between 1 .5 and 2 billion despite a recapitalization of 4 billion granted by the State in favor of SNCF Réseau. Details of this deficit will be delivered in February. The railway group has set itself the distant ambition of doubling the modal share of the train in ten years. For the moment, the curves do not tend towards the objective.

If the general staff is “confident” for the coming year, the Omicron virus weighs on the current traffic , with in long distance a decline of 29% of bookings in January (of which -50% for professional customers) and a sharp drop on Transilien. At this stage, February sales are down 15% from compared to the waterline of 50, details the SNCF.

The request changes

According to the number two of the company, the SNCF has shown an unusual ability to adapt with the Covid. “Normally, changes in transport plans occurred four times a year, every quarter, but last year, we did it several dozen times”, underlines Christophe Fanichet.

The company is beginning to have more hindsight on demand movements, some of which will be long-lasting . “The rhythms of life of the French have changed. For the TGV, the peak of the weekend which began before Friday noon now extends from Thursday until Monday evening. In Ile-de-France, the busiest day of the week, Tuesday, marks a peak of 24 % compared to the less frequented, on Friday, against 14 % before”, deciphers the boss of SNCF Voyageurs.