The Paris-Nice night train, which was relaunched after a three-year shutdown, could be the first in a long series, the government said on Friday.
Prime Minister Jean Castex inaugurated this first link, arriving in Nice on Friday morning aboard this night train. “When I was young, I was used to sleeper trains …” he said as he got off the platform. “There, my night was not complete enough”. .
The Prime Minister was greeted by the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, with whom he then had a coffee on the terrace, on the famous Cours Saleya, before leaving for the Drôme.
On the forecourt, facing an inter-union delegation CGT, CFDT and South, Mr. Castex highlighted the 6.4 billion euros invested by the State, all sectors combined, in rail.
“We are happy that this (night) train is restarted, in its form of public service,” greeted the CGT Paca manager, François Tejedon. He asked Mr. Castex to intervene so that negotiations “really” open on the question of the opening to competition of trains planned in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur.
“You have in front of you a Prime Minister who must carry out the ecological transition, and the railways have their place there”, replied the Prime Minister. “Everyone has to get started, we need productivity effort”, continued Jean Castex, in particular to guarantee the “revival of rail freight”.
Christian Estrosi, for his part, highlighted the delivery within “a year” of the multimodal station in Nice, connecting the airport, the train and the tram.
A Paris-Nice every night
With this night escape of 1,088 km in his agenda, the Prime Minister wanted to highlight a “rapid realization of the French stimulus plan”, which devotes 5.3 billion to the rail sector, including 100 million for night trains, although less polluting than the plane, and connecting small stations.
“It’s part of our history, it’s a relationship with the extraordinary territory,” exclaimed SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou upon arrival. “It is also a place conducive to discussion, and there is a strong sensitivity to ecological issues, carried by the younger generations (…) It opens up very good prospects”.
The Intercités Paris-Nice, whose operation had ceased in December 2017 for lack of public support, will connect every night, and in both directions, Paris-Austerlitz and Nice-Ville, with six stops, including Marseille, Toulon and Cannes .
The government also wants to relaunch the Paris-Tarbes and a Paris-Munich-Vienna at night at the end of the year.
Connecting Paris to Sweden
“Paris-Nice is just the beginning,” Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tweeted on Friday. “My goal: ten night trains in 2030”.
A report on “the development of new regional balancing train lines” has been sent to Parliament. He will discuss the Bordeaux-Paris, Metz-Lyon-Barcelona, Quimper-Geneva, or Paris-Hamburg (Germany) -Malmö (Sweden) routes, said the minister.
There were no longer – excluding stops linked to the pandemic or to works – only two night train lines in France, from Paris to Briançon, and from Paris to Rodez, Cerbère and Latour-de-Carol (Pyrénées-Orientales ).
In July 2020, Emmanuel Macron caused the surprise by announcing “a policy of promotion and revitalization of night trains”. The cars of the surviving lines must be completely renovated by 2023.
According to the report published on Thursday, “the modal shift towards the night train makes it possible to reduce CO2 emissions by 95%” linked to the movements of travelers who would switch from the car or the plane to the train.
The economic model of these lines, as well as its financial viability, “will need to be further explored,” according to the authors of the report. But it already appears that long international lines have “potential”.
The report also suggests ways to optimize interior lines, with renovated Corail cars, then the purchase of new trainsets, opening up to competition, and a wider range going from seats to cabins with showers.