Opening up to Competition

From 2000 to 2010, freight markets opened up to competition, followed by high-speed rail. For SNCF, the change is an opportunity to leverage our unique store of European rail experience—Eurostar with Britain, Thalys with the Netherlands, Lyria with Switzerland, Alleo with Germany and Elipsos with Spain. And that’s only the beginning.


5 key dates trace the opening of rail transport to competition.

  • 15 March 2003: trans-European freight traffic opens up to all companies in the European Union
  • 13 June 2005: first private-sector freight train operates in France
  • 31 March 2006: all domestic freight opens up to competition, throughout the European Union
  • 8 December 2009: a new law defines and regulates the structure of rail transport; an independent watchdog that ensures free and fair competition, is created.
  • 13 December 2009: international passenger traffic opens up to competition, allowing non-French rail companies to operate in France.

What the change means
for you

With international rail transport now open to cross-border competition, new rail companies can offer service on lines previously restricted to their national operators. For example, trains operated by our subsidiary Keolis now stop in German and British stations.

What’s in it for you? A wider range of travel destinations, a broader choice of fares, and the promise of better quality services.

We see the opening of passenger rail to competition as an opportunity to win new international markets.

our share of the freight market in France eight years after markets opened to competition

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