The government will issue a call for expressions of interest in the next few weeks in conjunction with the regional governments in areas served by the trains which will otherwise be withdrawn. However, the government will not provide any subsidy to new operators. The result of the tender will be announced on July 1.
The services to be tendered are:
- Paris Austerlitz - Cerbère
- Paris Austerlitz - Hendaye (Irun)/Tarbes
- Paris Austerlitz - St Gervais/Bourg St Maurice
- Paris Austerlitz - Nice
- Luxembourg - Nice/Port-Bou, and
- Strasbourg - Nice/Port-Bou.
These trains form part of the TET contract for conventional long-distance services agreed with the government in 2010. The government has given SNCF notice that it will cease funding overnight services on all routes except Paris - Briançon and Paris - Rodez/Latour de Carol from July 1.
Figures released by the government show that usage of overnight trains has fallen by 25% since 2011 and that these trains represent 25% of the losses from the TET operation whilst carrying 3% of the passengers, each of whom the government says benefits from €100 of subsidy per ticket.
SNCF decided in 2007 to remove all sleeping cars from overnight trains and to provide only low-quality couchette cars. As a result, passengers who were paying higher fares to travel in sleeping cars have switched to hotels and daytime air or TGV journeys rather than downgrading to travel in high-capacity couchette cars.