The plans were presented by the president of Occitanie, Ms Carole Delga, and the president of French National Railways (SNCF), Mr Jean-Pierre Farandou, on October 15. Occitanie has already increased services by 11% this year by introducing 72 extra trains, equating to 37,000 additional seats.
One of the most important aspects of the plan is to reopen or safeguard the numerous marginal lines in the region. Occitanie is offering to contribute half of the €1.6bn needed over the next 10 years to renovate or reopen the following lines: Béziers - Clermont-Ferrand, Foix - Latour de Carol, Rodez - Brive, Toulouse - Auch, Saint Sulpice - Mazamet, Tessonnières - Rodez, Tessonnières - Capdenac, Figeac - Bagnac, Le Monastier - La Bastide, Nîmes - Langogne, Perpignan - Villefranche and Nîmes - Le Grau du Roi.
Occitanie is also taking advantage of the recent Law on Mobility to take over the management of the reopening of the Montréjeau - Luchon and Alès - Bessèges lines. This follows the region’s rejection of SNCF Network’s estimates of the cost and time needed for this work. Occitanie also intends to take over management of the Auch - Agen freight line together with the neighbouring New Aquitaine region.
In addition, Occitanie supports the construction of new high-speed lines from Bordeaux to Toulouse and Montpellier to Perpignan.
Following the purchase of 51 new Régiolis multiple units from Alstom and 18 double-deck Régio2N double-deck trains from Bombardier, Occitanie is now financing the refurbishment of 83 Bombardier AGC trains by SNCF and local company Safra in Albi. Safra will start work in January with an initial batch of 19 units, with an option for 10 more sets over 26 months. Occitanie will also conduct trials with a hybrid train this year, a battery-powered train in 2023, and a hydrogen train in 2025.
Occitanie has fought hard to retain some of the last overnight trains running in France and now subsidises the Paris - Rodez/Toulouse/Latour-de-Carol service to the tune of €1.4m a year. A Paris - Tarbes/Hendaye overnight service is expected to start in 2022, and the region wants three more overnight services to be restored: Paris - Clermont-Ferrand - Nîmes, Paris - Millau and Strasbourg - Cerbère. The region is also supporting the Objectif Train de Nuit association which is studying the creation of an overnight mixed passenger and freight service between Frankfurt and Barcelona.
Occitanie has objected to the withdrawal last year of the rail freight service carrying fresh fruit and vegetables from Perpignan to the Paris wholesale market at Rungis and is pressurising the government and SNCF to restore the train. The region is also studying the possibility of using its trains and buses to carry small quantities of freight.
The region is also involved in the reopening of the Rhône valley right bank freight line to passengers between Nîmes and Valence, a project which also involves the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The Nîmes - Avignon - Pont Saint - Esprit section of this line is expected to reopen in December 2021, four years earlier than expected.