Black jacket, smiling behind the mask, the hostess pushes her little carriage down the hall and interrogates the travelers one by one. “Hey, what should I serve you for a drink?” Here is the box with your snack inside and on the napkin a QR code that gives you access to the press online and to order a taxi online. This service, reminiscent of airlines, is exclusively reserved for customers traveling in business premieres.
This new class was officially launched on Tuesday by SNCF aboard its TGV Inoui on the Paris-Lyon route. Goal: to face the competition from the Italian Trenitalia, which was to arrive before the end of the year, with its shiny Frecciarossa (literally “red arrow”) with four different comfort classes on this strategic line for SNCF. Paris-Lyon is both the busiest high-speed line in France and one of the most profitable.
The ticket price is set at 142 euros
After launching two daily return flights to this destination with Ouigo, its low-cost TGV, in July 2020 and announcing low-cost, low-speed Oigo trains until March 2021, SNCF is now taking on the customer business, representing one in three travelers between Paris and Lyon.
More than real news, the business premiere actually recycles first-class seats, but provides their customers with extra service, at the quay and on board. They enjoy a dedicated space in the Grand Voyageur lounge at Gare de Lyon, reserved “express” lines to access the platforms and free snacks served on board, which vary according to the time of day: brioche and juice on morning, spelled salad and chocolate tartlet for lunch, slice cake in the afternoon, appetizer biscuits in the evening. For now, everything is cold, non-alcoholic and vegetarian.
The price of the Business Première ticket is fixed: 142 euros, regardless of the time chosen. By comparison, the price this Tuesday afternoon was 87 euros for a ticket in the first and 76 euros in the second.
100% new trains within a year
“We believe in it a lot. For me, the real plus of the first company is the flexibility it gives professionals, excerpt Alain Krakovitch, director of Voyages SNCF. It allows you to change your ticket for any train during the day, even though it’s full. “
Depending on the needs, between half and two wagons per. trains be dedicated to primary business. Always to counter the arrival of the Italians, SNCF will gradually renew all its trains on the Paris-Lyon line. Its 22 daily high-speed tours are currently provided by 17 trains, only half of which are new. The goal is to achieve “80% new trains by the end of the year and 100% by mid-2022”.
Thanks to the reduction in the number of “squares”, these seats in four seats facing each other, the capacity of the new trains has increased from 510 to 556 seats, of which four are disabled. “There is one USB port per. person, in first and second class, and in first class a wider seating arrangement with a real table and the possibility of a small tablet and adjustable lighting. There is even a courtesy mirror to adjust the tie or lipstick, ”describes Jean Rouche, director of the TGV Sud-Est axis.
Soon other connections in France
How to resist the attack from Trenitalia? “I am convinced that the competition will increase the cake,” says Alain Krakovitch. Two examples prove this: Every time an Ouigo is launched on a line in France, there is a 20% increase in traffic, and in Spain, the arrival of the Ouigo between Madrid and Barcelona has resulted in a 17% increase in activity. This three-class offer is in line with what we already offer on Eurostar, Thalys and Lyria. »
Furthermore, SNCF makes no secret of the fact that, if the test is decisive, it could expand the first business to other destinations such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Rennes or Nantes. “Our goal,” says Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, is to remain the long-term high-speed benchmark in France and Europe. “