These 2 SNCF changes demonstrate how threatened they are by incoming competition

These 2 SNCF changes demonstrate how threatened they are by incoming competition
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ouigo

Earlier this year, we wrote about SNCF’s Porte-à-Porte service (literally, “door-to-door”), which the train company began testing in Aix-en-Provence, allowing train travelers to order a taxi to the departing train station, as well as from the arriving train station. One of many ways in which SNCF has been preparing for the incoming competition later this year, the service has now been extended to be available to Paris Gare de l’Est and Strasbourg as of today, and will later serve Paris’s Gare de Lyon and Lyon’s Part Dieu train stations later this year.

With three of France’s most popular long-distance train routes covered on the service, SNCF is looking to regain control of the once indominable taxicab market, which has been rattled by incoming smartphone-enabled chauffeur services, as well as public transportation, as the economic crisis rages on.

In addition, SNCF launched earlier this year a low-cost train service, OUIGO, a pun on the French word Oui pronounced ‘we’ meaning “Yes”, and the English word “go,” connoting both “Yes, Go” and “We Go.” The cheap service travels from Paris, technically (about an hour’s train ride from the Marne La Vallée stop and the center of Paris), to Lyon, Marseille, and Montpellier. The new train brand’s slogan, “High Speed, Low Cost” (in French les trains à grande vitesse et à petits prix), underlies their efforts to undercut the competition before it arrives, as well as maintain their high-speed branding.

While neither of these services on their own will keep SNCF from being as untouchable as it has been up until now, it is certainly clear that this former monopoly is not going down without a fight.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Alex_

    You have to note that the market is now open but no one wants to invest. The initial costs are just too high… For sure, they want to evolve and create barriers to entry but that’s imo not the main reason.
    Ouigo is not just a low cost train, it is also a huge laboratory to experiment new management and maintenance methods that could be used for regular trains in the future. Nowadays, airline companies use processes that have been initially designed for low cost companies.

  2. Avatar
    Tom

    Meanwhile in the US there probably won’t be a high/Med speed train built in the next 20 years and people will continue to burn gasoline, and kill themselves driving cars for long distances and take uncomfortable planes to go from SF to LA in the same time that it takes to go with a HS train for a portion of the price tag and less pollution.

    It is a monopoly allright, and it probably needs a little disruption. But if it means breaking it to pieces over a price war on heavily travelled routes and discarding all the smaller ones, no thank you we’re fine. It still is a great service if it prevents so many people from taking a car.

    I would be curious to see an analysis on the predicted user experience improvement coming with the opening of the service to the competition, and on the impact on society and environment. I think we should look at the total life cycle analysis, not just the “prevalence” of the service over strikes and the tickets price.

    On the contrary for the taxi, I could not feel more like a captive customer. Disrupt!

  3. ask ira

    […] These 2 SNCF changes demonstrate how threatened they are by incoming competition – Earlier this year, we wrote about SNCF’s Porte-à-Porte service (literally, “door-to-door”), which the train company began testing in Aix-en-Provence, allowing train travelers to order a taxi … s Gare de Lyon and Lyon’s Part Dieu train stations … […]

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