TER circulation in Occitanie: why the Council of State is canceling the fees set by SNCF Reseau in 2024

TER circulation in Occitanie: why the Council of State is canceling the fees set by SNCF Reseau in 2024

Fees to be redefined for the railway company. Midi Libre – JEAN-MICHEL MART

According to the highest administrative authority, which had been contacted by an appeal filed by seven regions and by Ile-de-France Mobilités, the procedure put in place by SNCF Réseau to set the pricing for use of the rail network in 2024 national was irregular. The railway company has until October to relaunch a new procedure.

 Does SNCF Réseau set in an opaque or abusive manner the rates  that the Occitanie region pays for the circulation of regional express trains (TER) on the rail network ? C& ;#39;this is what the Council of State estimates this Tuesday, March 5, which has just decreed irregular the procedure carried out by the railway company to set the amount of these fees due for 2024, while leaving the company with seven months to comply.

A very supervised price setting process

SNCF Réseau is the company managing French railway infrastructure, which charges each user of its rails, foreign company or local authority, a fee for the right to run trains. These fees are set according to a very supervised process, in which SNCF Réseau is supposed to propose a price, as well as a predictable evolution over the following two years, and take into account the opinion of its users on this price list.

A requirement for transparency

The transport code provides in this regard "a requirement of transparency" for the railway company vis-à-vis customers, which involves providing “sufficient information to enable them to express an informed opinion on the pricing provisions in question and, with regard to the organizing authorities public passenger transport services, enable them to ensure that the total amount of fees charged to these services does not exceed the share of the full cost of the network attributable to them."

However, after the publication in December 2022 of the draft fee scale, seven French regions, including Occitanie (with Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Centre-Val de Loire, Hauts- de-France,  Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Grand Est) and Île-de-France Mobilités attacked this document before the Council of State, considering that they did not have sufficient information on how The full costs of the railway infrastructure and their evolution were estimated. A feeling shared by the Transport Regulatory Authority, which issued a partially unfavorable opinion on February 9, 2023.

A purely formal consultation

SNCF Réseau then published a new, modified reference document in May, which opened a mandatory consultation period between October 8 and December 8, 2023 to take into account the comments presented by the regions. However, the next day, the document was adopted by the board of directors: "This irregularity deprived these authorities of the guarantee of seeing their opinion on the pricing provisions of the reference document of the network duly taken into consideration" considers the Council of State. 

An irregular procedure, a requirement for transparency not respected  : SNCF Réseau will therefore have to establish a new price list, this time providing indicators allowing us to understand the prices charged. The sums due for 2024 are however not canceled, but the Council of State grants a period of seven months, i.e. until October, to the company, to set its new prices, "in order not to seriously undermine the financial balance of SNCF Réseau".

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