THE Hauts-de-France regional council has selected the passenger business of French National Railways (SNCF), SNCF Voyageurs, as the preferred bidder for the first PSO contract it has put out to tender for the operation of regional TER services.

The contract starts on December 15 2024 and runs for a term of 10 years and six months. It principally covers the network of routes radiating from the city of Amiens in Picardy, including the lines to Abancourt and Rouen, Abbeville, Albert, Saint-Quentin, Laon, Compiègne and Creil.

It also includes the Creil - Beauvais, Beauvais - Le Tréport, Abbeville - Le Tréport and Laon - Hirson routes. The contract covers a total of 4.2 million train-km a year and annual traffic amounting to 211 million passenger-km.

Bids were also submitted by Transdev, the Régionéo partnership of RATP Dev and Getlink, Spanish national operator Renfe and Arriva International.

In putting a PSO contract out to tender for the first time, Hauts-de-France says it has been able to obtain major improvements for passengers from incumbent SNCF, particularly in the areas of customer service, passenger information, train and station cleanliness, ticketing, revenue protection and security.

SNCF Voyageurs says that it will be offering passengers a redesigned and updated service. This will be operated by a dedicated company within SNCF Voyageurs that will be furnished with all the necessary resources, entirely suited and dedicated to meet the requirements of the Hauts-de-France region and the commitments set out in the PSO contract.

The regional rolling stock maintenance facility at Amiens will be redesigned and upgraded, and Amiens will also be the location of a control centre that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The call for tenders certainly challenged us,” says Mr Jérôme Bodel, TER regional director for Hauts-de-France at SNCF Voyageurs.

“We have reinvented ourselves to respond point by point to the requirements set out in the region’s tender specification.”

“We have made a new promise with a new organisation dedicated to operating this network,” says Mr Jean-Aimé Mougenot, TER deputy director at SNCF Voyageurs.

“I have confidence in our teams, who will from now prepare to deliver this robust and competitive bid, centred on a very demanding results culture.”