TGV: Why won’t the LeTrain company launch on French rails before 2024?

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Le Train’s project takes shape: to circulate high-speed trains between Arcachon, Bordeaux, Angoulême and Poitiers. However, the latter faces many unforeseen events.

Competition against SNCF TGV is struggling to emerge in France. The ambitions of local players collide with the harsh reality of the market: this is the case of the LeTrain company.

LeTrain company: what is it?

The LeTrain company was launched in 2019 on the initiative of entrepreneurs, railway and mobility experts. It is the first private French railway company whose ambition is to offer high-speed inter-regional and intra-regional connections without passing through Paris. The goal is to circulate 50 trains a day starting from the first year, or 3 million passengers a year.

A new competitor for SNCF?

The answer is far from secret. On corporate websiteit is easy to read: “Il Treno is not a competitor of the current SNCF offer, it is a complementary offer that aims to make high speed accessible where today the offer is absent or unsuitable”.

Why is its launch delayed?

Because its commercial launch schedule is constantly being postponed. The company should only intervene on the French rails at the end of 2024, and not at the end of 2022, as planned.

A paradoxical delay since the operator claims to have made good progress in its financing plan with the arrival of Crédit Mutuel Arkea and Crédit Agricole. An essential step, normally resolved.

And at the political level?

Alain Gétraud, managing director of LeTrain, deplores the passivity of the public authorities on the issue of opening up to competition. “There are no coercive means, a strong political impetus is needed. It must go on, we can no longer afford to wait for the SNCF” he explains to the microphones of BFM extension.

Does the SNCF resist?

The operator has chosen to invest in second-hand equipment, reformed TGV trains… A choice that would not really find an echo on the part of SNCF Voyageurs, owner of this equipment.

Legally, European regulations prohibit any sale or transfer of this type of equipment that contains chemicals. However, some reformed TGV trains contain this carcinogen.

The new company therefore has to change its plans. However, the choice of the new one is in contradiction with the operator’s eco-responsible philosophy. The gear is more expensive, more carbon intensive, and doesn’t let you go fast. “Delivery is not expected before 24-36 months” regrets the director. Hence the postponement of the launch to 2025, 2024 at the latest if LeTrain finally manages to get its hands on the used one.

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