Ecran d'accueil du nouveau site SNCF Connect. Home screen of the new SNCF Connect website.

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister of Transport, has asked the SNCF to ” solve as soon as possible” the dysfunctions of SNCF Connect, the new application of the railway company launched on January 25. And to specify during an interview this weekend on the CNews channel that ” the SNCF has committed to mobilize more than 30% of staff to answer the phone to a number of requests ” of dissatisfied customers. Jean-Baptiste Djebbari is far from blaming the SNCF, however, saying that ” it’s a transition and all transitions are sometimes a bit complicated. […] There is no doubt that this new application will offer a lot of functionality.

Born from the merger of the previous digital tools in place, and L’Assistant SNCF

mainly, the new application was to improve train reservations in France (TGV, TER, Intercités…) and internationally (Eurostar, Thalys, Lyria…) but also to offer the best fares in order to respond to users’ criticisms about the prices deemed high for high-speed trains (excluding Ouigo, whose application has not been merged for the moment).

This project, carried out by SNCF Connect & Tech, the digital subsidiary of SNCF Voyageur, was particularly ambitious, with the possibility of carrying out “door-to-door” travel queries between 400 French cities by combining several modes of transport. And this, while adding innovations such as the ability to pay for several tickets at once by placing them in a virtual basket.

Aware of the stakes, the SNCF spared no effort, with 300 people from SNCF teams and the French Tech startup ecosystem working for a year on the development of this “all-in-one” digital application. It was then tested for several months by 4,000 volunteer customers, user associations and SNCF employees.

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New ergonomics displeased some users

Since January 25, there has been a lot of criticism of SNCF Connect from some of its customers, who have been very vocal on social networks. Most of them concern the difficulty to retrieve on the tool reservations previously made on, the display of unrealistic routes due to homonyms, a problem to read the QR code of the ticket and the headache to book a route including several connections. The new display on a black background has also confused many users.

lators. Validated during tests, this dark mode is supposed to allow better reading of information and, above all, to be less energy consuming for smartphones.

Anticipating criticism, Anne Pruvot, the CEO of the SNCF Connect & Tech subsidiary, said at the launch that SNCF Connect would be regularly improved, with the addition of payment methods (Paypal, Apple Pay), eco-friendly travel offers (free-floating bicycles and electric scooters) and Ouigo tickets in Spain, where the SNCF is competing with Renfe in 2021.

Malfunctions to be resolved by the end of March

On Friday, Jean-Pierre Farandou, the CEO of the SNCF, had already said that improvements would be made by the end of March on the points concentrating most of the criticism. It will be possible to reuse the Wallet functionality of the iPhone to store tickets. And the price comparison table that had disappeared could make a comeback. In its misfortune, the SNCF is reassuring itself by saying that it has not lost any customers since this big changeover, with an average of 2.5 million visits per day on SNCF Connect since January 25 (i.e. +39% compared to and a download of more than 400,000 times since the updates of the Ouisncf and L’Assistant versions, which had been downloaded 23 and 16 million times respectively.

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Jean-Pierre Farandou’s objective remains to get customers to return to his trains after the health crisis and to attract new ones in the long term in order to double the railways’ share of transport, i.e. 20% by 2030. And to further increase the share of digital technology in the company’s sales, with the next milestone set at €6.5 billion in 2025, up from €4.3 billion last year.