On the occasion of the Grand Live du Voyages d’affaires, which took place online on January 20 at the initiative of CDS Groupe and the IFTM-Top Resa trade show, Jean-Pierre Farandou, head of the SNCF, spoke at the opening of the event to take stock of the railway company’s business news. A business segment currently affected by a 30% drop in demand and an increase in absenteeism following the outbreak of the Omicron variant in France and the measures taken by the government concerning teleworking. To cope with this, the SNCF has decided to reduce its TGV offer by 10% and its Intercity services by 20% (except for night trains). In the longer term, the CEO wants to see the glass as half full regarding the emergence of telecommuting and videoconferencing on his business activity, which represents 20% of his customers but 40% of SNCF Voyageurs’ turnover. “Of course there is regulation, but the good news is that some of these customers who work remotely now live further away. If these customers will travel less to get to the office, they will travel longer distances when they have to return,” he says. And he predicts that the level of business traffic will be 10% to 15% lower this year than before the health crisis, with a return to business activity in 2019 expected “by the end of 2023”.

Winning back business customers

To achieve this goal as quickly as possible, the SNCF will conduct an aggressive commercial policy with companies through promotions. ” We have decided to be as attractive as possible through appropriate services and pricing based on a system of contracts and volume discounts,” says Jean-Pierre Farandou, who considers this contractual policy a priority. ” The SNCF has about a thousand key accounts with which discussions are almost individual and where we can go even further in the discounts granted compared to the Pro contracts“. The big news could be the upcoming integration of the Ouigo offer into its business range, as business travelers use these low-cost TGVs for their trips because of their attractive fares and appropriate schedules. ” We should no longer consider Ouigo as an internal SNCF low-cost offer, but as an integral part of the TGV offer that we provide to our customers,” he said. The Ouigo range is far from negligible today, representing 25% of high-speed trains. Exchanges between Ouigo and Inoui tickets should be facilitated. The launch of the SNCF Connect application at the end of January will contribute to the SNCF’s desire to “make the exchange of tickets easier.e make customers’ lives easier by making travel more fluid,” said the executive.

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Increasing train travel to 20% of trips in France

To retain and attract new business customers, the national railway company is also banking on the environmental advantage of travelling by train compared to other modes of transport. ” Taking the train means reconciling mobility with the protection of the planet,” says the president. And he reminds us that the train generates 50% less carbon emissions than the car and 80% less than the plane. At a time when many companies are concerned about the environment and produce a CSR report every year, the SNCF is now offering key accounts the opportunity to calculate the carbon footprint of their annual travel. ” This way, they know the carbon savings made. More precisely, the ambition is to take 10 points off the car, which currently accounts for 85% of travel in France. Here too, SNCF Connect will be used to develop joint mobility and facilitate door-to-door travel via train + cab, train + car rental, train + bicycle or train + carpooling. ” We need to weave these different links to create a practical and fluid transport chain for organizing and booking a trip from start tofinish,” he insists.

offer a Business Pro with an improved service on the Paris-Lyon route to convince our business customers to stay on board our TGVs

Finally, Jean-Pierre Farandou said he was not worried about the arrival of competitors on the rail network, especially Trenitalia on the Paris-Lyon-Milan route. ” This will stimulate us and enable us to be even better in the services we offer to companies. Our response will be to offer a Business Pro with an improved service on the Paris-Lyon route to convince our business customers to stay on board our TGVs. With a major advantage in terms of the range of services offered, i.e. 22 frequencies per day compared with two return trips for our Italian competitors. And this even if Trenitalia plans to add a few more rotations in the spring of 2022.