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Posts Tagged ‘Ouigo

Oui mais go slower

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According to Les Echos, the future ‘low cost’ TGV Ouigo high speed train service between ‘Paris’ and Aquitaine might be routed via the existing main line, rather over the high speed track (being built at a cost of several billion euro) and use Massy as its northern terminus.

As with the Paris – Lyon relation, there seems to be a need to make Ouigo inconvenient for business travel, to limit migration from regular TGV.

[La SNCF dessine les contours de sa future offre de TGV low cost Ouigo vers Bordeaux, Lionel STEINMANN, Les Echos, 14 Jan 2015]

[…] Seconde interrogation, la nature de la ligne empruntée pour relier Bordeaux. Aujourd’hui, les TGV circulent sur le réseau classique à partir de Tours, pour un temps de parcours, pour les liaisons directes, un peu supérieur à 3 heures. Mais cette ligne va être doublée à partir de 2017 par une ligne 100 % TGV, le groupe Vinci ayant remporté l’appel d’offres pour la construction et l’exploitation d’une nouvelle section TGV entre Tours et Bordeaux, qui mettra Bordeaux à 2 h 05 de Paris. En 2017, la SNCF aura donc le choix entre les deux itinéraires. Et selon plusieurs experts, elle pourrait choisir de faire circuler les TGV classiques sur la nouvelle ligne et les Ouigo sur la ligne actuelle. La SNCF récrimine en effet depuis plusieurs années sur le niveau des péages qu’elle devra acquitter à Vinci pour faire circuler ses trains. Ces péages seront déjà difficiles à supporter économiquement par les TGV classiques, assure un expert, ils sont tout bonnement inenvisageables pour les TGV low cost.

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Written by beleben

April 22, 2015 at 8:38 am

Posted in Bizarre

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Le detour de France

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In the 1970s, before the high speed Paris Sud Est railway had opened, a train journey between Paris and Lyon took about four hours (but no change of train was needed).

Ouigo routes 2014

Ouigo routes 2014

In 2014, the principal stations for the ‘low cost’ Ouigo TGV train service between Paris and Lyon are Marne-la-Vallée and Satolas (St Exupéry). So, a Ouigo journey between Paris and Lyon must take about four hours, with two changes of train required.

The idea behind using Marne-la-Vallée (etc) must be to try to stop business people downgrading from regular TGV. Why anyone would want to replicate such a crazy arrangement in Great Britain, by building HS2, is difficult to understand.

Written by beleben

August 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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We go to Bickenhill?

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On 19 February 2013, French train operator SNCF announced its latest experiment in yield managed ‘low cost’ travel products, the Ouigo TGV service.

Marne-la-Vallee TGV station is in the far eastern suburbs of Paris

[Railway Gazette, 20 February 2013]

From April 2 Ouigo services will run from Marne-la-Vallée Chessy station on the eastern outskirts of Paris to Marseille and Montpellier. There will be three return services a day and four on Sundays.

Tickets can only be booked on line, with fares for the single class priced according to demand and ranging from €10 to €85. Children accompanied by an adult pay a flat fare of €5 and SNCF says that 25% of the seats will be sold at less than €25.

Four double-deck TGV Duplex sets have been refurbished at SNCF’s Bischheim workshops to operate Ouigo services, operating in pairs to offer a total of 1268 seats or 20% more than a standard formation. No catering facilities are provided and the bar area has been replaced with additional luggage space. Each Ouigo passenger is entitled to take one piece of baggage free of charge, up to two extra items being charged at €5 or €10 each.

To enable tickets to be checked before boarding, passengers are required to arrive at the station at least 30 min before departure. SNCF says at least four on-train personnel will be present during the journey.

The mind boggles. If they need four on-board personnel for a low cost train, how many do they need for a ‘standard cost’ one? According to the British high speed rail lobbying company Greengauge 21, Ouigo is targeted at people “who continue to use cars for long distance travel”.

[Grengauge 21 blog, ‘Why cheap and cheerful makes good business sense’, 28 February, 2013]

French state railway company SNCF is launching Ouigo, a ‘low-cost’ version of its high-speed TGV service, with fares from €10 for journeys between Paris, Lyon and Marseilles. Could we and should we expect the same on Britain’s high-speed network? Our answer is yes.

To explain why, we need to look at what the new French model entails.

SNCF has already pioneered low-cost offers on its domestic TGV trains, with low price deals and family areas available on a book-in-advance basis. What’s different is that the new ‘Ouigo’ service involves whole separate trains offered at discount prices – which although they start at €10, will on average sell at higher (although still attractive) prices. So why bother with a separate low cost train? After all, deep discounts are available on Inter City trains already in Britain; why not just continue with the same arrangements for HS2 trains when services start up?

Targeting car users

The new idea in France is to target those people who continue to use cars for long distance travel. Often, this is families, and when groups of people travel together, the economics of private car travel look relatively better against the rail alternative, with multiple tickets to purchase.

TGV services now have to pay more realistic charges for use of infrastructure (something of a catch up with the situation we have had in Britain since the creation of Railtrack, now Network Rail). With busy and expensive terminals in the city centres already well served with frequent TGV services, SNCF sees an opportunity to address the private car market and win even more market share for rail. This would have high-speed trains departing from suburban stations, closer to the target market, easier to access by car. So the new services will operate from Marne La Vallée station in Paris and Saint-Exupéry in Lyon, rather than the city centre stations used by the existing TGV services. The geographic separation of termini from those used by the more expensive, higher frequency TGV services reduces the risk to SNCF of existing customers ‘down-trading’ – although some will undoubtedly do so.

So, is HS2 set up to accommodate this type of offering?

Well, of course no decisions have been taken on the service plans at this stage. There is a likelihood that spare capacity in terms of train paths on HS2 will be quite limited or even non-existent at peak times. But then the Ouigo service avoids the busiest peak periods. We believe there is likely to be some spare track capacity during the day and in the evenings on HS2 where this kind of concept could be tried. Unlike in France in 2013, in Britain, where we have an established pattern of ‘open access’ rail operators, there is every reason to believe a competing operator could provide a low-cost operation. Doing so would spread the benefits of HS2 even wider, and add yet more to its business case.

To introduce a Ouigo–equivalent it would be necessary to operate to/from non-central stations. Services would – as in France – need to be operated just as fast as the ‘main’ high-speed service, and would still need to pay track fees – but not the high charges likely to be associated with using stations such as the new Euston.

Across the North, such services could operate from a whole range of places not on the HS2 network but connected to it. To address the car-driving markets of outer London and the wider south east suggests thinking of services that would use the planned connection between HS2 and HS1; this would allow low-cost services to run from Stratford in East London (which has good road access from the M11), and Ebbsfleet in Kent (just off the M2/M25).

But it should be remembered that the HS2 business case to date has assumed our high-speed services will attract no premium over regular long distance rail fares. While at the top end rail ticket prices are expensive, most people don’t travel first class/fully flexible. We have previously estimated the typical single fare (in today’s prices) at £40 – 45 based on an analysis of the price people actually pay for tickets for journeys such as Manchester — London.

The secret of success with HS2 will be ensuring that trains operate with few empty seats, and this can only be achieved by offering a range of prices to appeal to different market segments on the same trains. But there is no doubt that a low-cost high-speed model, targetted at providing a better alternative to the tedium and vagaries of the national motorway network, could have great appeal, and the HS2 plans can make this possible Ouigo–style too.

If the HS2 railway were built, the result would be the creation of large amounts of unusable, and near-unusable, capacity. One could imagine near-unusable-capacity in particular HS2 trains being sold at the last minute, for £1 per seat, or whatever amount happened to just exceed the guessed marginal cost.

But separate dense-pack ‘economy HS2’ trains running from Bickenhill, or wherever, are a very unlikely prospect. France’s cheap ‘n grim advance purchase Ouigo cattle truck will be a very small operation, and the idea that it would be attractive to large numbers of family motorists, is fanciful.

Written by beleben

February 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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