SNCF says the new tariffs are designed to be simpler and more flexible, as well as saving money for regular travellers.
Rachel Picard, director-general of Voyages SNCF, previously told French newspaper Le Monde: “To attract and grow new customers, we have to make it cheaper and simpler.
So what’s happening?
First SNCF is simplifying its pricing structure, and from Thursday May 9th is only offering second class, first class or business premier tickets. These are available for all TGV, InOui and intercity services, but not on budget train service Ouigo. These have replaced the current Tariff Prem; Tarrif Loisir and Tarrif Pro, which offer different prices and levels of flexibility depending on how far in advance they are booked.
What discounts are available?
SNCF is launching a new railcard offering a new discount card to regular travellers, replacing the various different loyalty schemes currently on offer which cost between €50 and €70.
The new Avantage Jeune card is available for young people (aged 12 to 27) and Avantage Senior to senior citizens (aged 60 plus). There is also an Avantage Week-end, available for people aged 27 to 60 for weekend travel and Avantage Famille.
Each card costs €49 a year and offers 30 percent off to adults, while the family card also offers 60 percent off for children aged between four and 11 (up to a maximum of three children).
What about regular travellers?
The current regular traveller card, the Fréquence, has been replaced with a new card – Liberté. The Liberté costs a flat fee of €399 and is valid for one year, unlike the current sliding scale of prices for Fréquence cards of different durations. It is valid on all TGV and intercity services, as well as on TGV services connecting to Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Luxembourg. It also offers half price travel for children and a 45 per cent reduction on business premier tickets.
Is it really more flexible?
SNCF is making it easier for passengers to get exchanges or refunds on tickets bought in advance. Under the new structure, tickets can be exchanged or refunded free of charge for 30 days before the date of travel or pay €5 to make a change with less than one month’s notice. It still costs €15 to change it two days in advance. At present the €15 charge only applies for 24 hours before the date of travel.
When does all this change?
The new pricing structure came into force on Thursday May 9th, but any cards bought before that date will be valid until their expiry date.