The Société nationale des chemins de fer français (French pronunciation: [s?sjete n?sj?nal de ?(?)m d(?) f fs?]; abbreviated as SNCF[?sn se ?f]; meaning "National Company of French Railways") is France's national state-owned railway company. Founded in 1938, it operates the country's national rail traffic along with Monaco, including the TGV, on France's high-speed rail network. Its functions include operation of railway services for passengers and freight (through its subsidiaries SNCF Voyageurs and Rail Logistics Europe), as well as maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure (SNCF Réseau). The railway network consists of about 35,000 km (22,000 mi) of route, of which 2,600 km (1,600 mi) are high-speed lines and 14,500 km (9,000 mi) electrified. About 14,000 trains are operated daily.
In 2010 the SNCF was ranked 22nd in France and 214th globally on the Fortune Global 500 list. It is the main business of the SNCF Group, which in 2020 had EUR30 billion of sales in 120 countries. The SNCF Group employs more than 275,000 employees in France and around the world. Since July 2013, the SNCF Group headquarters are located in a Parisian suburb at 2 Place aux Étoiles in Saint-Denis. The president of SNCF Group has been Jean-Pierre Farandou since 2019.
SNCF operates almost all of France's railway traffic, including the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, meaning "high-speed train"). In the 1970s, the SNCF began the TGV high-speed train program with the intention of creating the world's fastest railway network. It came to fruition in 1981 with the completion of the first high-speed line LGV Sud-Est ("Ligne à Grande Vitesse Sud-Est", meaning "southeast high-speed line"), where the first TGV service, from Paris to Lyon, was inaugurated. In 2017, the national rail network owned by SNCF Réseau had 28,710 km (17,839 mi) of lines, 58% of which were electrified and 2,640 high-speed lines. Every day, the SNCF runs 15,000 commercial trains and transports more than 5 million passengers and more than 250,000 tonnes of goods. TGV lines and TGV technology are now spread across several European countries.
The SNCF's TGV has set many world speed records, the most recent on 3 April 2007, when a new version of the TGV dubbed the V150 with larger wheels than the usual TGV, was able to cover more ground with each rotation and had a stronger 18,600-kilowatt (24,900-horsepower) engine, and broke the world speed record for conventional railway trains, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph).
The SNCF has a remarkable safety record. After nearly 30 years in operation, SNCF's TGV system has only experienced one fatal accident, which occurred during pre-opening testing and not in regular operation.
In April 2019 Stagecoach were banned from bidding for any franchises including the West Coast Partnership which has meant that Virgin and SNCF have now had to withdraw from the shortlist.
Since the 1990s, SNCF has been selling railway carriages to regional governments, with the creation of the Train Express Régional brand. SNCF also maintains a broad scope of international business that includes work on freight lines, inter-city lines and commuter lines. SNCF experts provide logistics, design, construction, operations and maintenance services. SNCF operates the international ticketing agency Oui.sncf, formerly Voyages-sncf.com and Rail Europe.
SNCF has employees in 120 countries offering extensive overseas and cross border consulting. Those projects include:
Israel: Assistance and Training. SNCF International provides assistance to Israel Railways in every area of rail operations including projects to upgrade the network's general safety regulations. Other assistance and training programmes involve Infrastructure and the Traction Division.
Taiwan: Operations Training. SNCF supervised the prime contractor responsible for construction of the Taiwan Railways Administration's main high-speed rail line. It also trained rail traffic controllers, drivers, and crew members. On behalf of the Government of Taiwan, SNCF managed the high-speed railway Command Control Centre.
United Kingdom: Maintenance. In 2007-2008, SNCF-International consultants audited the maintenance practices applied to the track, signalling and overhead electric power line on British high-speed rail lines connecting London to the Channel Tunnel. In addition, it conducted an audit of the maintainer's performance from the service quality and cost control standpoint, made recommendations for improvements, and proposed a three-year Business Plan.
South Korea: HSR Electrification Design. SNCF advised Korean Railroads on the electrification of tracks between Daegu and Busan and on linking existing conventional tracks to the new high-speed line. SNCF also assisted in selecting and inspecting high-speed rolling stock and trained 400 senior manager, engineers, and executives in a broad range of skills, including signalling, catenaries, track, rolling stock maintenance, HSR operation, safety management, marketing, and passenger information systems. Until the end of 2009, SNCF assisted Korea in maintaining its high-speed.
Spain: Signalling System. SNCF partnered with ADIF (Spanish railway infrastructure provider) in the study, supply, installation, and maintenance of the standard EU railway signaling system along the Madrid-Lleida high-speed line. On behalf of the Spanish Government, SNCF designed and led maintenance operations on this line over a two-year period.
France: Lead Infrastructure and Rolling Stock Maintainer - The SNCF maintains 32,000 km (20,000 mi) of track, 26,500 main sets of points and crossings, 2,300 signal boxes, 80,000 track circuits, over 1 million relays, etc. It also maintains 3,900 locomotives and 500 high-speed trains. Each of SNCF's TGV trains travels more than 39,000 km (24,000 mi) a month - enough to circle the globe. Each year SNCF's Human Resources Department provides over 1.2 million hours of training to its over 25,000 employees.
The French state originally took 51% ownership of SNCF and invested large amounts of public subsidies into the system. Today, SNCF is wholly owned by the French state.
World War II
Following the 1940 Armistice and until August 1944, SNCF was requisitioned for the transport of German armed forces and armaments. The invading German troops were responsible for the destruction of nearly 350 French railway bridges and tunnels. According to differing estimates, SNCF surrendered between 125,000 and 213,000 wagons and 1,000-2,000 locomotives.
France's railway infrastructure and rolling stocks were a target for the French Resistance aimed at disrupting and fighting the German occupying forces. This allowed SNCF employees to perform many acts of resistance, including the formation of the Résistance-Fer movement in 1943. Nearly 1,700 SNCF railway workers were killed or deported for resisting Nazi orders. 150 Résistance-Fer agents were shot for their acts of resistance, 500 of them were deported. Half of those deported died in concentration camps.
German occupying forces in France also requisitioned SNCF to transport nearly 77,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims to Nazi extermination camps. These deportations have been the subject of historical controversy and lawsuits (such as the Lipietz case) in France as well as in the United States (where subsidiary Keolis is a transportation contractor) to the present day.
In 1992 SNCF commissioned French academics to write a history of SNCF activities during World War II. The resultant report was published in 1996.
More recently, some sources have claimed that SNCF billed Nazi-occupied France for third-class tickets for Holocaust victims transported to extermination camps, although passengers were transported in cattle cars. Other sources have reported that after the liberation of France SNCF continued to seek payment for transporting Holocaust victims to Germany. However, historian Michael Marrus has written that claims that SNCF billed for third-class tickets and continued to seek payment after the war ended were made as part of a legal case brought against SNCF, and did not match with historians' understanding of what happened. Marrus argues that SNCF had no margin of maneuver during the German occupation and that the actions of SNCF employees were not ideologically motivated. According to Serge Klarsfeld, president of the organization Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France, SNCF was forced by German and Vichy authorities to cooperate in providing transport for French Jews to the border and did not make any profit from this transport.
In December 2014, SNCF agreed to pay up to $60 million worth of compensation to Holocaust survivors in the United States. It corresponds to approximately $100,000 per survivor.
In May 2014, the company had discovered that 2,000 new trains they ordered at a cost of 15 billion euros are too wide for many of France's regional platforms, Construction work has already started to reconfigure them.
On 1 January 2015, Réseau ferré de France (RFF) merged with SNCF Infra and the Direction de la circulation ferroviaire (DCF) and became SNCF Réseau, the operational assets of SNCF became SNCF Mobilités, and both groups were placed under the control of SNCF.
The SNCF's former headquarters in the Montparnasse neighborhood
Until 1999, the SNCF's historic headquarters was located at 88 Rue Saint-Lazare in the 9th arrondissement. In 1996 the chairman of SNCF, Louis Gallois, announced that SNCF would move its headquarters to a new location during the middle of 1997.
Since July 2013, the SNCF headquarters are located in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis at 2, place aux Étoiles, 93200 Saint Denis. The move was motivated by cutting operating costs by 10 million euros per year.
Since 1 January 2020 SNCF is a state-owned group consisting of a parent company (SNCF) with several independently operated subsidiaries:
SNCF Réseau (English: SNCF Network) - State-owned enterprise that manages, maintains and develops the French rail network ;
SNCF Gares & Connexions (English: SNCF Stations & Connections) - SNCF Réseau subsidiary responsible for the maintenance and renovation of the 3,000 stations on the French rail network ;
SNCF Voyageurs (English: SNCF Travelers) - State-owned enterprise that operates trains in France and Europe, including the flagship TGV inOui service, along with the low cost Ouigo TGV service, Intercités traditional long-distance services, and TER and Transilien regional services ;
ICF Habitat Novedis (100%): rental housing (social and private housing)
According to a TNS SOFRES survey published in 2010, 66% of French people have a good image of SNCF. At the end of 2019, this proportion was measured at 50% by the Posternak-Ifop barometer on the image of companies. In 2020, Eight Advisory and IFOP unveil their ranking of the "most admired French companies": SNCF is in 23rd position.
Safety on trains is also often a priority. To do this, around 2,800 railway workers form the Railway Security, the general supervision of SNCF, of which 50% of the workforce is assigned to the Île-de-France region.
SNCF's current visual logo was created in 2005 by the Carré Noir agency, a subsidiary of the Publicis communication group. It was slightly reworked in 2011: rounded corners, disappearance of shadows inside the letters as well as behind, and a clearer separation between them.
Since the Auguste and Louis Lumière's first film, SNCF has been the company that hosts the most film shoots in France, between 50 and 60 shoots per year, which represents around two thirds of French productions. Here is a selection of iconic films where SNCF is at the heart of the matter:
^Ribeill, Georges (2002-2003). "Obstétrique de guerre: Le cas de la SNCF (1939-1945)"(PDF). Les Cahiers de Recits, Laboratoire de Recherche sur les Choix Industriels, Technologiques et Scientifiques (in French). Belfort-Montbéliard: Université de Technologie Belfort-Montbéliard. 2: 49-61. Archived from the original(PDF) on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 2012.
^Christofferson, Thomas; Christofferson, Michael (2006). France during World War II: From Defeat to Liberation. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN978-0-8232-2563-7.
^Durand, Paul (1968). La SNCF pendant la guerre, sa résistance à l'occupant. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
^ abMarrus, Michael R. (2011). "Chapter 12 The Case of the French Railways and the Deportation of Jews in 1944". In Bankier, David; Michman, Dan (eds.). Holocaust and Justice. Berghahn Books. ISBN978-9-65308-353-0.
^ ab"Le siège haut perché de la SNCF à Montparnasse" (Archive). Les Echos. 20 May 1999. Page 54. Retrieved on 1 May 2010. "Pari tenu : réceptionné le 19 mars par Bouygues Immobilier et livré à son occupant dix jours plus tard, le nouveau siège de la SNCF est sorti de la gangue du grand ensemble de la gare Montparnasse, dans le 14e arrondissement de Paris, en quinze mois d'un chantier intense qui a mobilisé sur place jusqu'à 650 personnes. Quelque 800 postes de travail sont concernés sur les 2.500 qui gravitaient hier autour du siège historique de Saint-Lazare (9e arrondissement), consacrant la partition entre une direction générale resserrée et des services centraux pléthoriques."