France will introduce legislation to allow the regions to open up their networks to competition. Competition on the high-speed network could follow later. However, the government says the rail network in the Ile-de-France region centred on Paris is too complicated to consider competition in the near future.
The government plans to unify the operation of the national rail network by bringing together functions currently carried out by French Rail Network (RFF) and French National Railways (SNCF). A decree to reform the management of stations will also be signed soon.
The government is keen to end the current fiscal imbalance in funding the rail network, which it says amounts to about Euros 1bn. It wants to rethink investment according to the economic and environmental relevance of trains and buses. The government, local authorities and SNCF and RFF will take part in the rethink which will start next year.
A new body called French Rail is to be set up encompassing suppliers, engineering and construction companies, transport authorities and operators, and infrastructure managers with a view to exporting infrastructure and rolling stock products. It will also set research priorities, and facilitate the development of medium-size companies.