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SNCF Prepares for Record Summer: 1.2 Million Travelers Expected Amid Olympic Rush

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The SNCF is set for a record-breaking summer with 1.2 million travelers expected this weekend, boosted by the upcoming Olympic Games. Despite high demand, 12 million tickets remain available.

On the brink of the first major holiday weekend, the SNCF is gearing up for what promises to be a record-breaking summer in terms of passenger numbers on its TGV and Intercités trains. According to Alain Krakovitch, director of TGV-Intercités, the company is anticipating an 'atypical summer,' especially with the upcoming Olympic Games. 'We already know that it will be a great vintage,' he stated, revealing that ticket sales are up by 2% compared to the same period in 2023.

Currently, about 32% of summer tickets have been sold. Krakovitch noted that customers are increasingly booking their trips between fifteen days and a month in advance. This trend explains why there are still 40% of tickets available for July and 75% for August. However, weekend trips to popular destinations such as the Mediterranean, southwest France, and Brittany are often already sold out.

For the first big departure weekend, the SNCF expects to handle 1.2 million travelers across its stations in France, with 450,000 departing from Paris alone. 'The occupancy rate of our trains is 87% for this weekend,' Krakovitch mentioned. Additionally, the Paris Olympic Games, scheduled from July 26 to August 11, are expected to further boost demand. Contrary to Air France's recent announcement of a 'phenomenon of avoidance' of the capital, the SNCF has recorded a 20% increase in demand during the Olympic fortnight compared to last year.

The surge in demand is not limited to Paris but extends to other cities hosting Olympic events, such as Lille, where many basketball and handball matches will take place. Krakovitch anticipates a doubling of attendance at stations compared to 2023. He also highlighted the success of the Rail Pass for under-27s, which allows unlimited travel on TER and Intercités for a subscription of 49 euros per month. Since its launch on June 5, 'several tens of thousands' of passes have been sold, a level deemed 'satisfactory' by Krakovitch.

Despite the high demand, the SNCF assures that there are still 12 million tickets available for this summer. As Krakovitch emphasized during a recent travel industry congress, 'People book a few weeks before departure, so it is completely normal that only a third of the summer tickets have been reserved so far.' While there are still plenty of tickets available for August, July trains are mostly full, especially on weekends. This trend is confirmed by travelers like Bruno, a retiree who struggled to find a TGV ticket for Chambéry during peak travel days, only securing a first-class seat for the following Monday.

  • The SNCF's proactive measures and strategic planning are aimed at accommodating the influx of travelers during this busy period. They are continually monitoring booking trends and adjusting their services to meet the high demand, ensuring that passengers have a smooth and efficient travel experience.
  • Moreover, the introduction of the Rail Pass for young travelers is part of the SNCF's broader strategy to make train travel more accessible and affordable, encouraging a new generation to opt for rail over other modes of transport. This initiative not only benefits the environment by promoting sustainable travel but also supports the company's long-term growth by building a loyal customer base.
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Refs: | Le Parisien | Le Figaro |