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SNCF, the French-state-owned rail company, is planning to expand across Europe.Its chairman Guillaume Pépy said he expected the rail industry to consolidate as the aviation industry is doing leaving just a few big players serving the continent.
In an interview with the London Financial Times, Mr Pépy said: “Europe is the domestic market of SNCF.”
His remarks come weeks after SNCF bought a 20% stake in the Italian company NTV, Europe’s privately-owned train operator.The company plans to run services between Rome and Milan after Europe’s passenger rail services are de-regulated in 2010.
SNCF has also this year bought full control of Geodis, a logistics operator.Mr Pépy told the FT: “This industry is going to be consolidated, exactly as the airline industry has been consolidated during the past 20 years.“So [the task] is proposing our benefits to other countries or to other companies and build the European rail service which doesn’t exist today.“For the moment, everybody is discussing with everybody.“We’re talking with dozens and dozens and dozens of colleagues, just to see. Co-operation, competition, alliance, joint venture – all kinds of strategies are imaginable.”Mireille Faugere, director general of Voyageurs France Europe, the SNCF division which handles long-distance passenger traffic, said in the same interview that SNCF was preparing to face competition in international high-speed rail once passenger services were liberalised.
Air France is in talks with Veolia, a conglomerate with interests in transport, over a possible alliance to run high speed trains in place of some air services.Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s rail network, has denied reports that it plans to run services to London in competition to Eurostar which is largely owned by SNCF.She said there were not many routes where there were enough passengers to support two train operators in competition with each other.Ms Faugere said SNCF would probably to continue to co-operate in cross-border projects. Visit www.sncf.com