The reform of the railway system will be debated in the National Assembly from 17 June. It primarily aims to improve the quality of the public service for all users, particularly through an essential merging of the network manager (RFF) and the operator (SNCF).
The reform will organise the French rail according to a new more simple and more coherent architecture which will increase efficiency and maintain the public railway service.The law creates a large public railway group steered by the State, which will set the objectives.
Why is this reform needed?
On the basis of four simple findings, the Government has initiated a priority reform of the railway system over the past eighteen months.
- Extensively used, the system is facing dysfunctions which degrade the quality of service provided to users. Works to maintain and modernise the conventional network are long overdue.
- Costs are not under control.
- The social framework has been shattered since the arrival of private freight companies.
- The railway system must be ready for future European developments.
The reform in 6 points
1. An integrated public industrial group
The group will be formed of a "parent" public establishment (the future SNCF) - which will be responsible for strategic control and steering, economic coherence, and the group's industrial integration and social unity - and two "daughter" public establishments: the infrastructure manager (the future SNCF Réseau) and the railway operator (the future SNCF Mobilités). The law thus puts an end to the logic of opposition and separation that resulted from the law of 1997 which undermined the efficiency and the quality of the service.
2. A reform for users
The grouping of SNCF Réseau and SNCF Mobilités within a single group guarantees better coordination between those scheduling the works and those operating the trains. The expected result: the works will better take into account users' needs and better integrate train traffic priorities. Overall: better coordinated works and more regular and punctual trains.
3. The return of the strategist State in French rail policy
The law confirms the concept of a public service railway that should be guided by the Nation
The State sets the objectives of public companies through performance contracts
A High Committee responsible for formulating the railway sector strategy will bring together all of the actors concerned: State, regions, businesses, users, trade unions.
4. A reform that maintains the French railway model and the public service
The law creates the conditions to stabilise the debt which is increasing by 2.4 billion per year and threatening the survival of the railway system.
It creates a group on an international scale that is capable of affecting foreign markets and exporting our know-how.
5. A coordinated, modernised and unified social framework
A core decree will set the main social rules common to the railway sector. The law provides for the negotiation of a national collective agreement common to all of the operators in the sector, a sine qua non condition to prevent the establishment of unfair competition and social dumping in the future.
6. An architecture that prepares rail for the challenges of the future
It is a 100% public, unified and eurocompatible model.