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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

French transport minister pressures SNCF to cap ticket price hikes

France's minister for transport says he hopes SNCF will put a "price shield" on ticket price hikes – set to be implemented in the new year – to protect commuters and younger passengers. AP - Virginia Mayo

France's transport minister has called on the SNCF rail network to implement a "price shield" for train tickets as they are set to rise in 2023 due to the explosion in energy costs.

Speaking on French television on Sunday, Clément Beaune said that he hoped the increase in ticket prices "would be less than inflation".

The annual inflation rate in France accelerated for the first time in three months to 6.2 percent in October, the highest since 1985, from 5.6 percent in September.

Beaune added that commuters who use the train on a daily basis – such as young people who use low-cost 'Ouigo' service – should be protected.

In mid-September, SNCF boss Jean-Pierre Farandou said that the electricity bill for SNCF Voyageurs would rise from €1.6 to €1.7 billion in 2023.

"If we were to pass on [increasing prices] directly to the cost of the ticket, we would have to increase TGV tickets by 10 percent," Mr Farandou said.

He was also keen to reassure train passengers that SNCF would not pass-on "100 percent of the cost to customers".

Motorway toll fees in the spotlight

Beaune also mentioned the increase in toll fees on France's motorways that is due to be applied in the new year, saying he hoped the rise would remain below inflation.

"There won't be an increase of seven-to-eight percent. That's not possible," the minister promised, but he added it would be higher than two percent.

Discussions regarding the increase in motorway tolls are currently underway between the government and the motorway companies.

Consumer prices in Europe rose at a rate of 10.7 percent in October -- an all-time high and well above the European Central Bank's two percent target -- as the cost of fossil fuels has leapt in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The effect has been felt particularly acutely on the continent, which had for years imported huge volumes of the fuels via pipelines from Russia.

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