Countdown to competition—key dates
15 March 2003
Trans-European rail freight opens up to every company in the European Union.
13 June 2005
The first private freight train runs on the French network.
31 March 2006
Domestic rail freight markets open completely to competition throughout the European Union.
8 December 2009
A new law defines and regulates the structure of rail transport, and the French State creates Araf (Autorité de régulation des activités ferroviaires)1, a new regulator tasked with independently monitoring the rail industry to ensure free competition.
13 December 2009
International passenger transport opens up to competition.
The French State and regional authorities may call for new tenders as existing public transport contracts with TER and Intercités expire.
Open access begins for high-speed transport providers and for conventional transport providers not subject to regional public transport contracts.
The French State and regional governments must call for tenders as existing public transport contracts with TER and Intercités expire.
Special conditions apply to Transilien, the mass transit provider for the Paris region: between 2023 and 2039, service will open up to competition on a line-by-line basis.
What’s new for you
Now that passenger rail transport is open to competition, new rail companies can offer trains on lines previously reserved for national operators. This already applies in other countries: for example, trains operated by our Keolis subsidiary now stop in German and English railway stations.
SNCF in Europe
SNCF’s rail experience is unmatched anywhere in Europe. We operate in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with Eurostar and Thalys, in Switzerland with Lyria, in Germany with Alleo and in Spain with Elipsos—and soon OUIGO—. And we’ve only just begun.
1 In 2015, Araf’s authority expanded to include interurban coaches and motorways operated under concession contracts, and it became a multimodal transport regulator under the name Arafer (Autorité de régulation des activités ferroviaires et routières, or Regulatory Authority for Railway and Road Activities). In October 2019, Arafer’s regulatory power expanded to include airport fees, and it was renamed as the Transport Regulatory Authority (Autorité de régulation des transports, or ART).