Almost four years after the launch of long distance bus lines in France, the German parent company of Flixbus wishes this time to compete with the SNCF. A subsidiary of the FlixMobility group, Flixtrain has postulated for the operation of five main lines as soon as the opening of the competition will be effective at the end of December 2020.
These lines concern trips between Paris-North-Brussels-North, Paris-Bercy-Lyon-Perrache, Paris-Bercy-Nice (night time), Paris-Bercy-Toulouse and Paris-Austerlitz-Bordeaux. Depending on the destination, there will be one to seven round trips per day published documents from the Authority for railway and road activities (Arafer).
The managing director of FlixBus in France, Yvan Lefranc-Morin, is focusing on an aggressive price policy and complementarity with its current bus line, to attract French customers. A detailed review of Flixtrain's future commercial offensive on the French railway.
Will Flixtrain attack the French market at low prices?
Yvan Lefranc-Morin: "We will implement the same commercial strategy as our buses, fighting on the value for money and with aggressive call prices. We will have a simplified pricing policy and a standardized offer, without first class. Include all services (WiFi on board, baggage …) because it is imperative that the offer and its price be legible to the traveler.
Are the SNCF Intercités trains target?
Y L-M: We are clearly not in a TGV-type offer. Our positioning will be to offer an alternative service to the current Intercités trains with high capacity trains, up to 1000 passengers. As for the coaches, there will be wi-fi connection on the train and the possibility of accessing a variety of entertainment services such as videos on board all trains from your tablet or computer. Each seat will have its own power socket and a snack service will be offered to the passenger who wants to drink or eat on the train.
Why do the German Flixtrain oars look old, why?
Y L-M: There is a lack of new railway equipment for passenger trains in Europe. It takes several years to get one once the order has been placed. As a rail operator in Germany, we were forced to start rolling old trains a year ago. We renewed them to equip them with the internal equipment corresponding to our specifications. This didn't stop us from attracting a million customers on our two lines in a year!
And in France, will Flixtrain have the same constraints?
Y L-M: All options are on the table. If we are forced to use already functioning trains, we will make sure to choose the most recent equipment possible.
Will Flixtrain outsource the movement of its trains?
Y L-M: Our added value is the creation of transport lines, the management of marketing and the promotion and the development of good IT tools for this. It is not about running trains or buses. In Germany, Flixtrain uses two railway subcontractors, one German and the other Czech. In France, we have contacts with rail freight operators in France, the opening to competition took place in 2006. In all cases, our partners will own the equipment, be it new or complete renewed , respecting a program of conditions set by Flixtrain as we did for buses.
What will be the complementarity with Flixbus buses?
Y L-M: We are convinced of the strong complementarity of these two modes of transport. They will have different prices, routes and travel times. We will integrate these trains into a much wider network that will strengthen the territory's network. Of the five railway lines that we propose to operate, three leave the Paris-Bercy station, due to its proximity to the Bercy bus station from which our bus lines depart. Finally, we will also offer combined tickets for trains and buses.
What will be the strategy for night trains?
Y L-M: C & # 39; a real appetite for a certain category of customers for night trains. They have the advantage of saving a night at the hotel. We see it on our night bus lines that work very well. That said, the operating costs of night trains are higher than the daily lines and we also need specific rolling stock. Do we need oars with bunks or reclining seats? Our choice was not interrupted. We also expect a lot of what the government will say about this. The Department of Transportation believes in their future and is committed to sustainability, although this service is not always profitable.
Could Flixtrain encounter obstacles in France?
Y L-M: The stage reached this week was to officially demonstrate with Arafer, the regulator, our strong interest in some lines. On these axes, it is possible to generate an additional question with respect to what exists. We do not believe in the communication of the ships with which the arrival of a new mode of transport would be at the expense of another. We hope our slots requests will be validated and that our current discussions with SNCF Réseau continue in the right direction to be ready to start our activities at the beginning of 2021.