As owner of the rail network, RFF is responsible for development and maintenance as well as usage charges and timetable management.
SNCF is responsible for operating commercial rail services. We also manage traffic and perform network maintenance under management agreements with RFF.

Revolutionary reform

RFF and SNCF are separate entities, both legally and financially.

  • 1991: a European Directive requires a clear separation of rail service operators and rail network operators.
  • 1997: RFF is created to become the owner of the French railway network. In exchange for these assets, RFF takes on a portion of SNCF’s debt.
  • 2009: a new law creates the Direction de la Circulation Ferroviaire (DCF), an independent rail traffic control division within SNCF.
  • 2011: RFF awards SNCF Infra a €2.15 bn management contract for track renovation, maintenance and construction.


Teaming up for progress

We are RFF’s prime client. As such, we pay usage charges to run 15,200 trains on the French network. Charges are set by FRR based on the type of line (high speed, freight, etc.).

But RFF is also our client since it delegates network operation and track maintenance to us: some 14,000 DCF personnel and 38,000 SNCF Infra employees work for RFF.

RFF track maintenance contracts are awarded on the basis of calls for tenders that attract bids from SNCF Infra and public works groups specializing in rail contracting. France is the only country in Europe that has adopted this approach.

Modernising the network

In 2008, the French government and RFF approved a multi-year modernization programme worth €13 billion. The overall aim is to upgrade the French network with a view to significantly reducing delays and other problems.

A total of 6,420 km of track will be renovated to upgrade Europe’s second largest network. The programme also calls for renovation of hundreds of signalling stations, level crossings, tunnels and bridges.

of track is managed by RFF and maintained by SNCF Infra.

comprises the railways and associated infrastructure: track, crossings, platforms, marshalling yards, signalling and more.