Fixing France's regional trains: an Introduction. (1/5)

Jordan Maris, November 10, 2021

French Regional Rail has gone through something of a crisis in recent years: closures, slowdowns and low ridership, as well as criticism from the Cour des Comptes, France’s public spending watchdog.

France, of course, is known for its high speed rail, which transports 110 million passengers a year at a blistering 320km/h. But its regional “TER” networks, with the exception of the Paris region, have not known a similar success. The combined daily ridership of all of France’s Regional networks (excluding paris) is a mere 800 000 passengers per day: lower than that of the Paris region alone, and from the available statistics, lower than that of other countries’ regional networks.

This series will evaluate the issues with French Regional Rail, propose solutions to address these issues, and explain why now is a better time than ever to act:

A first article will discuss the political, economic, ecological and social reasons why now is the time to make this change, covering the climate crisis, young people’s disenchantment with cars, and the rise of teleworking and the risk of a post-pandemic urban exodus.

A second article will discuss the flaws in French regional rail as it stands, covering the infrastructure itself, the flaws in policy which have resulted in closures and slow-downs, the consequences of those closures, as well as the issues with the passenger experience, service design and planning, and subscriptions and governance.

A third article will set out the changes needed to address the problems with french regional rail, and provide a template for future projects.

Finally, a forth article will provide an example in the form of a case study of the Auvergne region in France.

I’ll update this article with links to each new article as I publish them, and I’d love to get feedback online. I will also (logically) provide French translations as I go!

Thanks for reading!