National Colloquium on Railway Convergence of March 26, 2022

Published on 20/04/2022 by PCF

On March 26, 2022, in order to mark in a good way its ten years of existence in the service of the promotion and development of the Public Railway Service, the National Rail Convergence (CNR), an association of pluralistic composition, was organized in Paris. . a colloquium aimed at highlighting the decisive role of the railway in a transport policy that can specifically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This symposium took place in a particularly charged and even disturbing national and international context, which could make the defense of the Public Railway Service seem ridiculous in the face of current war and its succession of dramas and crises, while the Covid. – The 19th pandemic is not completely behind. However, we believe that our struggle has its place in this context where the IPCC’s sixth report reminds us of the urgency of fighting global warming faster and more effectively! For this, the train, the public railway are undeniable assets when we know that the train represents only 10% of all transport compared to 85% of the road, but weighs only 0.3% of total CO2 emissions! !

The symposium was marked by the holding of three round tables, by journalists, where leaders of user associations, elected politicians, NGOs, trade unionists, experts, representatives of transport operators were able to present and confront their points. of view, thus making it possible to nurture high-level exchanges.

Thus, many speakers were able to show that the openness to competition of the railway activities of the EU member states turns its back on the reduction of the carbon footprint of passenger and freight transport. In addition, it has been reported that due to the deterioration of the service provided, the explosion of costs, the shortcomings of private operators, several countries (England, Scotland, Norway, Wales, Germany) return to public management of the operation of railway activities (passenger traffic) which had been entrusted to the private sector.

Belgium has decided that for 10 years it will not open its passenger traffic to competition. Luxembourg, for its part, opposes European dictatorship. In Sweden, 70% of the population is in favor of a return to the public monopoly, and in Switzerland in the summer of 2021 it was decided to abandon competition in passenger traffic because it is too expensive and unnecessarily complicates the system.

In France, driven by feelings of revenge against the SNCF, the railways, and by dogmatic stances certain regional councils, open the operation of the TER to competition in all or part of its territory. Several speakers indicated that what drives these councils is not to meet the needs of users, but much more to make room for the private sector to allow us to make “cash” on the rails, even to “flow” abundant public money! The attribution of the operation to Transdev of the operation of the TER Marseille-Nice line (10% of the traffic-34% of the revenues of the Region!) Is revealing of this policy of segregation of the Public Railway Service. The attacks on the activities of the RATP and the SNCF on the Île-de-France under the impetus of Valérie Pécresse with the aim of opening the bus network, the metro, the RER, the Transilien trains, the tram trains. have been condemned! It is a real “cut-off” that is committed, against which social and citizen mobilizations are organized.

The round table focused on the location of the railway in the ecological transition made it possible to verify that we will not be able to double the volume of goods transported by rail in 2030 if the public authorities do not invest more in the railway system. infrastructure, rolling stock, human resources). From this point of view, it was useful to remember that Germany will spend 86 billion euros on its network for 10 years (ie 8.6 billion annually), while the French state invests half that in Germany and Italy!

The CNR Colloquium was, in fact, the sounding board of the proposals for the relaunch of the public railway, breaking with the liberal logics and the actions that are being developed to do so in the territories and that need to be strengthened. Thus, debates have arisen, among others, the urgency of developing rail freight transport, with in particular the amplification of the electrification of the network, the reactivation of night trains, the road train, the opposition to the closure of ‘stations, lockers, reduction. of cash that lead to a dehumanization of the public railway service, accentuated by the dematerialization of the sale of transport tickets. This breach of equal access and treatment of users / citizens led the CNR to file two appeals with the Administrative Court against SNCF and SNCF Voyageurs.

Didier Le Rest

president of the CNR

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