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Hauts-de-France go to war against SNCF

The region stops paying the company due to delays and malfunctions on the TER network.

Xavier Bertrand returns to war against the SNCF. The Hauts-de-France regional council, chaired by the contender for the nomination of the Republicans for the presidential election, believes that the company is responsible for “malfunctions, delays and cancellations of trains on the TER network”.

As a result, the region, which pays SNCF for the operation of its TER lines, simply decided on Wednesday to suspend payments. At the end of October, the threat had been raised pending an improvement in the situation: “The degradation of service on the entire TER network is such that the ceiling for penalties for train cancellations (1.8 million euros per year) has been reached since June 8, 2021 ”, it was stressed at the time at the regional council.

A threat that dates from October

SNCF Voyageurs, which manages the TER activity in particular, announced that it was initiating “an immediate plan to reinforce human and material resources, in particular with the assignment of 40 rolling staff, drivers and controllers” and the reinforcement of “volunteer staff” on the maintenance, driving and control of trains. Two locomotives were also to be sent as reinforcements. But, a month later, the region has not seen any improvement.

This is not the first time that Xavier Bertrand has expressed his exasperation with regard to the railway company. In 2018, he said he was “fed up with the SNCF”. And he was impatient to be able to call on an operator other than the public group.

Other regional bosses (Christian Estrosi in Paca, Hervé Morin in Normandy) had also said all the bad things they thought about delays, unexpected train cancellations and the high cost of services. But, now, regions can switch to competition at the end of a TER contract. The Paca region was the first to end the SNCF monopoly last October. It entrusted the operation of the Marseille-Toulon-Nice line to Transdev from July 2025. The public group had not lost everything, since it had retained the operation of a second line.

Other competitions will take place in the coming years. The Grand Est region will launch two calls for tenders for five TER lines, the operation of which will start at the end of 2024. For its part, the Hauts-de-France region has launched a call for tenders on three TER lines: the star of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise, the Paris-Beauvais link and the star of Amiens.

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