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Société nationale des chemins de fer français

legal form EPIC ( public company with a commercial character)
founding January 1, 1938
Seat Saint-Denis , FranceFranceFrance 
  • Frédéric Saint-Geours (Chairman of the Board of Directors)
  • Jean-Pierre Farandou (Chairman of the Board)
Number of employees 272,721 (2018)
sales 33.311 billion euros (2018)
Branch Transport / logistics
As of December 31, 2018

The SNCF office building as seen from the Seine in March 2015

The Société nationale des chemins de fer français ( SNCF ; German  National Society of French Railways ) is the national railway company in France with its headquarters in Saint-Denis near Paris . It operates almost all rail traffic in France and Monaco , the high-speed train TGV , parts of the Paris suburban traffic RER as well as line 4 of the Paris tram . Its subsidiary, SNCF Réseau , owns the route network. The SNCF is a member of the Railteam alliance.

Key figures

The SNCF has around 160,000 employees. Over 14,000 trains run on the SNCF network every day. In 2005 these transported around 974 million passengers, 632 million of them in local transport from Paris.

In 2005 sales amounted to 16 billion euros, with a profit of 533 million euros. In 2007 the profit was 1.11 billion euros. After a profit of 575 million euros in 2008, the SNCF announced in the spring of 2010 an annual deficit of 980 million euros.


Prehistory to the foundation in 1937

The first railway lines were built in France around 1830. Soon various private railway companies emerged, which began to set up a network of routes under license from the state. Around 1870 the most important cities in France were connected to Paris by a route network of 17,430 kilometers.

The " Freycinet Plan", which became law on July 17, 1879, was an important part of French railway policy . According to this, all French people should have access to the railroad and every town with more than 1500 inhabitants should have a railroad connection, with gaps being closed by narrow-gauge lines . The network grew to 39,400 kilometers by 1914, including 2500 km of newly built branch lines . All sub-prefectures and important cities in France were thus connected to the railroad.

However, these extensions could not be financed by the railway companies on their own, so that the state was sometimes forced to intervene. As a result of the First World War, the financial situation worsened again, the rail networks were worn out and the emerging road traffic created new competition. After another crisis in 1929, the state initiated the nationalization of the railways.

In the 1930s, increasing street competition began to take its toll. The narrow-gauge railways suffered the most from the increasing competition on the roads, and so thousands of kilometers of narrow-gauge lines were shut down in the 1930s (first wave of closures).


On August 31, 1937, the contract to create a "national railway company" was signed. The agreement, which came into effect on January 1, 1938, had a term of 45 years. The aim of the contract was to create a joint network under state control and to eliminate the loss-making operation. Six large railway companies merged into the SNCF: the private companies Est , Nord , PLM and PO-Midi (created through the merger of PO and Midi ) and the state-owned companies État (including Ouest ) and AL .

With this contract, the SNCF took over the concessions of the acquired railways. The state held a 51% stake in the new company and the shareholders of the former railroad companies 49%. The agreement stipulated that the state should gradually acquire all private shares during the term of the contract.

From now on, the former companies formed only network regions (Régions) , namely Est , Nord , Ouest , Sud-Est and Sud-Ouest with offices in Paris . There were also two regional directorates. Due to the large extent of the Sud-Est region, the Méditerranée Regional Directorate was established in Marseille . Strasbourg became the seat of a regional directorate for the Est region , which included the territory of the former AL ( Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg ). The network there differed from the rest not only in terms of the vehicles and the signaling (right-hand traffic instead of left-hand traffic), things such as health care and staff pension claims were also regulated differently.

The contract stipulates that the SNCF is to be run as a commercial enterprise and that the tariffs are to be set in such a way that the expenses are covered. If the state vetoed the tariffs, it was obliged to provide compensation.

As a result, extensive operating guidelines were laid down in order to meet the state transport order and to eliminate the financial difficulties.

Role of the SNCF during the occupation

With the Armistice of Compiègne , the SNCF came under the control of the German occupation authorities . However, attempts were made to maintain the company's economic independence. In addition to the trains of the occupying power, which are given priority by the treaty, extensive train operations were maintained. However, the rail network in Alsace-Lorraine was administered by the Deutsche Reichsbahn .

The SNCF was also involved in the deportation of Jews to extermination camps in Poland . In June 2006, therefore, a verdict was issued for deprivation of liberty and inhumane accommodation (in the Drancy assembly camp ). In contrast to the SNCF leadership involved in the deportations, many railway workers, whose work the railway needed to transport troops and materials, offered increasing resistance against the occupiers (the so-called Resistance -fer ). Many railway workers paid with their lives for this struggle, which was aimed at making transports more difficult or impossible. As a Jew, Henri Lang , head of the regional directorate in Marseille, was no longer allowed to exercise his office from autumn 1940. In March 1942 he was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp , where he died two months later.

On November 12, 2010, SNCF first expressed deep grief and regret for their involvement in the deportation of Jews during the German occupation in France. SNCF bowed to pressure from the United States , among other things , which threatened the French state railways to deny access to competition for rail transport services in Florida and California . On May 23, 2012, the SNCF signed an agreement with the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center on further research into the deportations. On December 5, 2014, SNCF agreed to pay compensation of US $ 60 million to the survivors and dependents of the deportees.

post war period

The BB 12000 series was the first
series of electric locomotives built in series for the AC network .

After the war work began on rebuilding the network, which was partially destroyed by the effects of the war. At the same time, competition between the road, aviation and pipeline modes of transport increased. That is why the company relied on better quality offers and technically advanced technologies at an early stage. This development is particularly evident in the early start of the electrification of the route network in single-phase alternating current and the world record set for rail vehicles in 1955.

From 1969 onwards, there was a second large wave of railway line closures , with the branch line network in particular shrinking significantly.

In order to avoid preferring the railways over other modes of transport, an addendum to the 1937 treaty was ratified on January 27, 1971. From now on, the SNCF had to bear all expenses itself and had to ensure a balanced result. The state only subsidized special discounted tariffs and the additional costs of public rail transport. In return, the SNCF should increase its activities in passenger and freight transport . However, the planned development was hampered by the oil crisis and the decline in heavy industry in France. In particular, the economically important transport of coal and iron collapsed almost completely. In this situation, the SNCF decided to focus on passenger transport and developed the high-speed train TGV.

TGV era

A TGV at the Marseille-Saint-Charles station in April 1987

After several years of construction, traffic on the Paris-Lyon high-speed line began in September 1981 . The TGV vehicles ran on the routes as planned at 260 km / h, later 270 km / h. With this concept (special high-speed routes combined with the rest of the route network), the SNCF pioneered the further development of global high-speed traffic.

In addition to the use of the TGV, further rationalization measures were carried out on the infrastructure. Particular attention was paid to the automation of train protection.

On December 31, 1982, the 1937 agreement expired. The SNCF fell to the state and was given a new constitution by it. The company is only operated as an EPIC (=  Établissement Public à caractère Industriel ou Commercial  = Public company of an industrial or commercial nature). Precise regulations were set out on the services to be provided by the SNCF and the payments made by the Republic for reduced transport tariffs (families, military) and regional rail offers.

A Thalys in the train station of Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the French Alps

In the following time, the SNCF expanded its high-speed network and since then has also offered high-speed connections abroad with Eurostar , Thalys , Alleo and Lyria .

At the beginning of 1993, the SNCF decided to introduce the triple headlights on their new locomotives in accordance with UIC regulations . Until then, the third light was only available on the locomotives that were intended for use in cross-border traffic. In addition to the TGV, the latter included the BB 20200 , CC 40100 , BB 67000 , A1AA1A 68000 , CC 72000 , ETG and X 4300 series . The BB 26188 left the Alsthom plant in October 1995 as the first machine with a standard triple headlights from now on . Retrofitting the older locomotives with a third light was not planned.

Agreements have been made with the regions of France on the supply and financing of regional passenger transport services. The regions acquired the necessary locomotives and wagons from the SNCF, among other things . As a result of the implementation of the EU Directive , the route network belonged from 1997 to 2014 to the public company Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) created for this purpose . As part of this reform, the infrastructure debt was transferred to the new company. In addition, the state undertook to assume the remaining debts of the SNCF and to secure the employment of the relevant staff. He also guaranteed the SNCF exclusive access to the network. In return, the railway committed itself to an economically profitable course of business. The railway remains a transport service provider and retains control of the commercial part of the stations. A corresponding fee was paid to RFF for using the route. As part of an agreement, the SNCF performed the operational management and network maintenance tasks for the RFF.

At the beginning of 2005, the European Commission approved several billion euros in financial support from the French state for the goods transport division of the SNCF. Nevertheless, at the same time, the SNCF significantly reduced the number of marshalling yards and single wagon traffic.

In mid-March 2005, the SNCF introduced a new logo.

In early 2012 the existing products were Corail , Téoz , Lunéa and Intercités under the common brand Intercités unified.

A TGV near Barcelona

Since December 2013, the Spanish-French joint venture Elipsos  by SNCF and RENFE has been offering  high-speed connections between Spain and France . The cities of Paris , Lyon , Marseille with Barcelona and Toulouse with Madrid are connected. These TGV and AVE trains operate under the brand name Renfe-SNCF en cooperación / en coopération .

In the 2015 financial year, the company posted a net loss of 12.2 billion euros due to special effects. The main reason for this was the correction of the accounting value of the existing network and a valuation of the TGV fleet that was reduced by two billion euros. Without these special effects, the company would have posted a profit of 377 million euros on sales of 31.4 billion euros.

Corporate structure

Since January 1, 2015, SNCF has consisted of three parts: the holding company SNCF, the network operator SNCF Réseau (formerly RFF) and the rail operator SNCF Mobilité.

The SNCF Group includes over 700 companies in which the SNCF has a stake. Most of them are combined in the subsidiary SNCF Participations (SNCFP). These companies are mainly active in the areas of transport and logistics. The SNCF is in turn classified into the 5 divisions of long-distance passenger transport, local passenger transport, freight transport, infrastructure and joint ventures / investments. Long-distance passenger transport includes TGV, Corail , Eurostar and Thalys . Since the beginning of May 2012, this area has also appeared in Germany as SNCF Voyages Deutschland GmbH . In local passenger transport, the regional rail activities TER , the Chemins de fer de la Corse in Corsica as well as Transilien , Corail Intercity and the holdings in Keolis and Effia are combined. The freight sector includes, among others, SNCF Fret and the Geodis Group .

The SNCF is also involved in the state ferry line SNCM as well as in Seafrance (liquidated) and Eurofima . In addition, SNCF has a stake in the Austrian RAIL Holding AG with the private passenger transport company WESTbahn Management GmbH . Until 2005, the telecommunications provider cegetel also belonged to the SNCF. It also held 20% of the Italian railway company NTV SpA


Period Surname
from to
January 1, 1938 September 1, 1940 Pierre Guinand
September 1, 1940 August 3, 1946 Pierre-Eugène Fournier
August 3, 1946 June 1949 Marcel Flouret
June 1949 February 1, 1955 Pierre Tissier
February 1, 1955 January 23, 1958 Louis Armand
January 23, 1958 1st September 1975 André Ségalat
1st September 1975 September 1, 1981 Jacques Pélissier
September 1, 1981 September 19, 1985 André Chadeau
September 19, 1985 February 29, 1988 Philippe vinegar
February 29, 1988 20th August 1988 Philippe Rouvillois
20th August 1988 May 7, 1994 Jacques Fournier
May 7, 1994 December 20, 1995 Jean Bergougnoux
December 20, 1995 July 24, 1996 Loïk Le Floch-Prigent
July 24, 1996 July 2, 2006 Louis Gallois
July 2, 2006 February 27, 2008 Anne-Marie Idrac
February 27, 2008 - Guillaume Pepy
since November 1, 2019 - Jean-Pierre Farandou

Measures to reduce the number of fare dodgers

The SNCF assumes that black trips result in lost profits of 300 to 500 million euros annually. She has been trying to fight it massively since around 2014.

  • In 2014, the flat rate for local transport for trips without a valid ticket was 49.50 euros. In many areas of transport, this does not seem intimidating. The SNCF demands an increase to 72 euros as a possible maximum amount, whereby the transport associations should be given the opportunity to set their own lump sum lower. Rail travelers who are found without a valid ticket have two months to pay the flat-rate fee. If payment is not made on time, the tax authorities will invoice an increased transport fee of 180 euros.
  • An agreement between the SNCF and the Ministry of Finance allows the SNCF to forward cases of unpaid flat-rate charges imposed for driving without a valid ticket in seven financial districts to the state tax authorities after two months. There a data comparison takes place and incorrectly given addresses can be exposed. As part of the project, the share of successfully collected flat-rate fees rose from 10% to 50%.

Picture gallery

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: SNCF  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : SNCF  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b , accessed on September 6, 2014.
  2. a b Rapport financier - Résultats annuels groupe SNCF 2018. (PDF; 2.0 MB) February 28, 2019, p. 11 , accessed on June 9, 2019 (French).
  3. French railways deep in the red. , Tageblatt. Fir Lëtzebuerg newspaper , March 25, 2010.
  4. a b Entre réalités rgionales plurielles et centralisme parisien in: Ferrovissime No. 16, p. 8.
  5. Cf. Christian Chevandier: Enemies or Colleagues? On the French railways 1940 to 1944, in: Yearbook for Research on the History of the Labor Movement , Volume II / 2013.
  6. ^ French railways regret deportations Focus Online, November 12, 2010
  7. ^ Yad Vashem and SNCF Agreement to Further Research of Deportations from France During the Holocaust
  8. ^ France agrees Holocaust SNCF rail payout with US. BBC News, December 5, 2014, accessed December 5, 2014 .
  9. ^ Announcement of the new status of the SNCF . In: Railway technical review . 32, No. 6, 1983, p. 371.
  10. Le nouveau troisième œil des locos in: La Vie du Rail, 2533/1996, p. 8.
  11. EU report threatens France . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International , issue 4/2005, ISSN  1421-2811 , p. 183.
  12. ^ Announcement New logo for the SNCF . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International , Issue 8–9 / 2005, p. 386.
  13. - SNCF unifies Téoz, Lunéa, Corail and Intercités ( Memento from July 31, 2012 in the web archive ) January 9, 2012.
  14. Le TGV Paris-Barcelone inauguré ce dimanche (French). Le Figaro newspaper website , December 14, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  15. SNCF with huge depreciation . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International . No. 6 , 2016, ISSN  1421-2811 , p. 296 .
  16. Stefan Hennigfeld: Keolis Germany sells subsidiary to SNCF - entry into long-distance transport planned. May 8, 2012, Retrieved May 8, 2012 .
  17. Mobilicités of December 14, 2014: Le gouvernement avance dans la lutte contre la fraude (French) accessed on June 18, 2015
  18. Mobilicités of June 18, 2015: SNCF: le taux de recouvrement des amendes passe de 10 à 50% (French) accessed on June 18, 2015
  19. Mobilicités of June 16, 2015 Fraude: la SNCF va expérimenter des portillons dans les gares de Marseille et Paris Montparnasse (French) accessed on June 18, 2015

Coordinates: 48 ° 55 ′ 5 ″  N , 2 ° 21 ′ 6 ″  E