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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Michael Fitzpatrick

French national rail operator vows to reinvest record €2bn profit

A train arrives to Matabiau train station in Toulouse, on December 2, 2022 during a strike organised by SNCF controllers. AFP - LIONEL BONAVENTURE

The French state rail company SNCF made profits of more than 2 billion euros in 2022. The Transport Minister has promised the entire sum will be reinvested in the rail sector, notably to upgrade aging equipment.

Even after deducting the cost of the Christmas strike by ticket inspectors, and reimbursing 200 percent of the price of tickets made useless by that work stoppage, the SNCF is expected to announce record profits of 2.2 billion euros.

The excellent results have not been officially confirmed, but neither have they been denied.

The healthy balance sheet comes as no surprise.

In the first six months of 2022, the rail company's turnover was 20.3 billion euros, 14 percent higher than before the outbreak of Covid. That income left a profit margin of 928 million euros.

And things got better. In July and August, the SNCF sold 10 percent more tickets than in the correponding period in 2019.

Earlier this month, the French rail company sold its shares in Akiem, a subsidiary specialising in locomotive rental, for a figure estimated at close to 3 billion euros.

Promises of reinvestment

Both the Transport Ministry and SNCF management have been quick to stress that the record returns will be "reinvested in their entirety" in the rail transport sector.

Last summer, Jean-Pierre Farandou, the boss of the SNCF group, warned that the level of French investment in rail infrastructure was insufficient when compared with that of neighbouring state rail systems.

Farandou estimated it would cost 100 billion euros to double train use in France and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

For now, this year's record performance will enable the SNCF to pay its electricity bill of 600 million euros, twice the 2021 amount.

The train company estimates the cost of next year's electricity requirements at 1.6 billion euros.

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