French rail reform bill announced

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Photo: RFF / CAPA / Lionel Charrier (TOMA).

Legislation to put SNCF back in charge of France’s rail infrastructure has been unveiled by Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier.

The reformed structure would see infrastructure manager RFF abolished and replaced by a restructured SNCF.

Under the new framework, SNCF will be split into SNCF Network – a merger of RFF, SNCF Infrastructure and traffic management body DCF – and SNCF Mobility, which will oversee passenger and freight operations.

The two new subsidiaries will operate under the supervision of a larger parent company which will feature an executive board made up of the heads of both SNCF Network and SNCF Mobility.

The executive board will then be monitored by a supervisory committee, which will include among its members public officials and SNCF employees.

The French government has said the bill, which was first announced in May this year, will also help “stabilise” the debts run up each year by SNCF and the RFF, which increase by around 1.5 billion euro each year, by reducing the amount the new infrastructure manager will be able to borrow for projects.

French railway operator ARAF will also be given additional powers to guarantee “transparent and non-discriminatory network access for railway undertakings and impartial functioning of the network manager”.

When the reforms were announced earlier in the year, the French government said it would “defend” the new structure during negotiations surrounding the implementation of the Fourth Railway Package, believing the reforms to match up with the aims of the European Union.

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