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Société nationale des chemins de fer français
Logo SNCF 2011.svg
Carte TGV.svg
Map of the French railways on which the TGV (LGV: blue; normal tracks: black) and Intercités (grey) SNCF trains run. Only lines going to and from Paris are shown here.
La Redonne.jpg
TER PACA service north of Marseille
HeadquartersSaint-Denis, France
Reporting markTGV, Intercités, TER, Transilien, Ouigo, Eurostar, Thalys, TGV Lyria
Dates of operation1938–present
PredecessorCompagnie des chemins de fer du Nord
Administration des chemins de fer d'Alsace et de Lorraine
Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée
Compagnie du chemin de fer de Paris à Orléans
Compagnie des chemins de fer du Midi et du Canal latéral à la Garonne
Compagnie des chemins de fer de l'Est
Administration des chemins de fer de l'État
Track gauge and
Length29,273 km (18,189 mi)
Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF)
State-owned société anonyme
EPIC between 1983 and 2019[1]
IndustryRail transport
Founded1 January 1938; 82 years ago (1 January 1938)
FounderGovernment of France
Key people
Jean-Pierre Farandou [fr] (SNCF President)
RevenueEUR33.5 billion (2017)
Number of employees
272,000 (2020)[2]
SubsidiariesSNCF Réseau
SNCF Gares & Connexions
SNCF Voyageurs
SNCF Logistics
Keolis (70%)

The Société nationale des chemins de fer français (French pronunciation: ​[s?sjete nasj?nal de m d(?) f fse]; abbreviated as SNCF, French: [?sn se ?f]; lit. 'French National Railway Company') 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, and maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure. The railway network consists of about 32,000 km (20,000 mi) of route, of which 1,800 km (1,100 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.[3] It is the main business of the SNCF Group, which in 2017 had EUR33.5 billion of sales in 120 countries.[4] The SNCF Group employs more than 260,000 people.[5] 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.

Business scope

High-speed rail

A high-speed train TGV Duplex from the SNCF
TGV 4402 operation V150 reaching 574 km/h (357 mph) on 3 April 2007 near Le Chemin

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[6]. 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.

United Kingdom

In 2011 SNCF in partnership with Keolis, unsuccessfully bid for the InterCity West Coast franchise.[7] In April 2017 SNCF took a 30% shareholding in a joint venture with Stagecoach Group and Virgin Group to bid for the West Coast Partnership that will operate services on the West Coast Main Line from May 2020 and the High Speed 2 line from 2026.[8][9]

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.

SNCF operations

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, formerly 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.


SNCF diesel locomotive in Amiens

SNCF was formed in 1938 with the nationalisation of France's main railway companies (Chemin de fer, literally, 'path of iron', means railway). These were the:

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 125,000-213,000 wagons and 1,000-2,000 locomotives.[10][11]

France's railway infrastructure and rolling stocks were a target for the French Resistance aimed at disrupting and fighting the German occupying forces.[12][13] This allowed SNCF employees to perform many acts of resistance,[14] including the formation of the Résistance-Fer movement in 1943. Nearly 1,700 SNCF railway workers were killed or deported for resisting Nazi orders.[15][16] 150 Résistance-Fer agents were shot for their acts of resistance, 500 of them were deported. Half of those deported died in concentration camps.[17]

German occupying forces in France also requisitioned SNCF to transport nearly 77,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims to Nazi extermination camps.[18][19] 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.[16][20]

In 1992 SNCF commissioned French academics to write a history of SNCF activities during World War II. The resultant report was published in 1996.[21][22]

More recently, some sources have claimed that SNCF billed Nazi-occupied France for third-class tickets for Holocaust victims transported to extermination camps,[23][24] although passengers were transported in cattle cars.[25] Other sources have reported that after the liberation of France SNCF continued to seek payment for transporting Holocaust victims to Germany.[23][26] 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.[19] 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.[27]

In December 2014, SNCF agreed to pay up to $60 million worth of compensation to Holocaust survivors in the United States.[28] It corresponds to approximately $100,000 per survivor.[29]

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.


A "broken nose" style of SNCF electric locomotive (BB 15000) designed by Paul Arzens

The industrial designer Paul Arzens styled many of SNCF's locomotives from the 1940s until the 1970s. A particularly distinctive type is the "broken nose" style of electric and diesel locomotives.

Current day

SNCF is recognized[by whom?] as a leader in eco-mobility with a commitment to become the world's first operator to offer carbon neutral travel at no extra cost to travelers. SNCF has cut emissions on its cross-channel Paris to London route by 31% in two years by using more electricity from non-fossil fuel sources.[] SNCF's 39 manufacturing facilities are in the process of "going green" and 9 sites are already[when?]ISO 14000 certified. SNCF developed an interactive website to help travelers calculate the environmental impact of their travel choices.

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.[30]

In 2015 the company also discovered that the new trains were too tall to use the Italian tunnels along the Riviera coastline route, so the trains have to end at the French/Italian border and transfer passengers to a smaller train.[31][failed verification]

Codeshare with airlines

SNCF codeshares with Air Austral, Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Middle East Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and SriLankan Airlines. In exchange, SNCF allows passengers on these flights to book railway services between Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy (near Paris) and Aix-en-Provence, Angers, Avignon, Bordeaux, Le Mans, Lille, Lyon Part-Dieu, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nîmes, Poitiers, Rennes, Strasbourg, Tours, and Valence with their airline. The IATA designator used by airlines in connection with these journeys is 2C.[]

Continental Airlines discontinued its codeshare with SNCF on 15 August 2010.[32]

Company structure and subsidiaries


Current head office in Saint-Denis
The SNCF's former headquarters in the Montparnasse neighborhood

Since July 2013, the SNCF headquarters are located in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis at 2, place aux Étoiles, 93200 Saint Denis.[33] The move was motivated by cutting operating costs by 10 million euros per year.[34]

From 1999 to 2013, SNCF's headquarters were located in the Montparnasse neighborhood of the 14th arrondissement of Paris,[35] located near the Gare Montparnasse.[36]

Prior to 1999, the SNCF's historic headquarters was located at 88 Rue Saint-Lazare in the 9th arrondissement.[36][37] In 1996 the chairman of SNCF, Louis Gallois, announced that SNCF would move its headquarters to a new location during the middle of 1997.[38]


Since 1 January 2015 SNCF consists of three divisions:

  • SNCF Réseau is the infrastructure division of SNCF, and carries out track and other infrastructure maintenance, design and construction. Subsidiaries in the group include Systra, Inexia and SNCF International.
  • SNCF Mobilités is the transport division of SNCF, tasked with the operation of passenger and goods trains. It comprises three branches of activity:
  • SNCF Immobilier is responsible for the stations' maintenance.


A SNCF ticket machine at the Épône-Mézières station

SNCF has full or partial shares in a large number of companies, the majority of which are rail or transport related. These include:[40]

  • Geodis (100%)
  • ERMEWA (100%)
  • France Wagons (100%)
  • SGW : Société de Gérance de Wagons (67.5%)
  • CTC : Compagnie des Transports Céréaliers (69.36%)
  • SEGI (98.96%)
  • Naviland Cargo (94.37%) previously CNC Transports, Compagnie Nouvelle de Conteneurs.

General freight transport:

  • C-Modalohr Express (51%)
  • Novatrans (38.25%)
  • Districhrono (100%)
  • Ecorail (99.9%)
  • Froidcombi (48.93%)
  • Rouch Intermodal (98.96%)
  • Sefergie (98.96%)
  • EFFIA (99.99%)

Passenger transport




See also


  1. ^ SNCF was reorganized from three EPICs to a holding company effective 1 January 2020. The official name of the surviving holding company remains Société nationale des chemins de fer français with no "S.A." suffix applied.
  2. ^ "SNCF - Overview, News & Competitors". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Global 500 2010: Countries". CNN. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ PDF Archived 23 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Financial report.
  5. ^ Direction de la Communication. "Profil et chiffres clés 2016" (in French). SNCF. Retrieved 2016.
  6. ^ L'observatoire des transports et de la mobilité. "Le marché français du transport ferroviaire de voyageurs" (PDF).
  7. ^ Shortlisted Bidders for Greater Anglia and Intercity West Coast Rail Franchises Department for Transport 24 March 2011
  8. ^ Stagecoach and Virgin to join forces with SNCF for West Coast Partnership Bid Stagecoach 25 July 2017
  9. ^ Stagecoach and SNCF lead Virgin-branded bid for HS2 operations Railway Gazette International 25 July 2017
  10. ^ Jones, Joseph (1984). The Politics of Transport in Twentieth-Century France. McGill Queens University Press. pp. 115-116. ISBN 0773504281. Retrieved 2012. SNCF railway transporting german troops.
  11. ^ Mierzejewski (2000). The Most Valuable Asset of the Reich: A History of the German National Railway Volume 2, 1933-1945. The university of North Carolina Press. p. 84. ISBN 0807825743. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Christofferson, Thomas; Christofferson, Michael (2006). France during World War II: From Defeat to Liberation. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-2563-7.
  14. ^ Durand, Paul (1968). La SNCF pendant la guerre, sa résistance à l'occupant. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  15. ^ Lombard, Marie-Amélie (25 January 2011). "Shoah : les "regrets" de la SNCF". Le Figaro. France. Retrieved 2010.
  16. ^ a b Baume, Maïa De La (25 January 2011). "French Railway Formally Apologizes to Holocaust Victims". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2012.
  17. ^ Ribeill, Georges (2006). "Résistance-Fer, du " réseau " à l'association". Revue d'histoire des chemins de fer. 34: 53-73. doi:10.4000/rhcf.534.
  18. ^ Shaver, Katherine (7 July 2010). "Holocaust group faults VRE contract". The Washington Post. ISSN 0740-5421. Retrieved 2010.
  19. ^ a b Marrus, 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. ISBN 978-9-65308-353-0.
  20. ^ CBC News (7 June 2006). "French railway must pay for transporting family to Nazis". Retrieved 2006.
  21. ^ "Facilitating historical research". SNCF. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013.
  22. ^ Associated Press (20 May 2011). "U.S. bill requires French rail company to disclose 'truth' of its Holocaust role". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012.
  23. ^ a b Chrisafis, Angelique (7 June 2006). "French state and SNCF guilty of collusion in deporting Jews". The Guardian. London.
  24. ^ "French railways win WWII appeal". BBC News. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 2013.
  25. ^ "SNCF airs Holocaust regret as it bids for Florida rail | News | The Week UK". 15 November 2010.
  26. ^ Riding, Alan (20 March 2003). "Nazis' Human Cargo Now Haunts French Railway". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013.
  27. ^ Serge Klarsfeld (26 June 2012). "Analysis of Statements Made During the June 20, 2012 Hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee of the Judiciary" (PDF). Memorial de la Shoah. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  28. ^ France to compensate American Holocaust survivors
  29. ^ Le Monde, Pour le rôle de la SNCF dans la Shoah, Paris va verser 100 000 euros à chaque déporté américain [1]
  30. ^ "French red faces over trains that are 'too wide'". BBC News. 21 May 2014.
  31. ^ Smyth, Sara (5 July 2015). "French red faces over trains that are 'too wide'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ "United Airlines - Airline Tickets, Vacations Packages, Travel Deals, and Company Information on". Archived from the original on 4 December 2010.
  33. ^ "Legal notice." SNCF. Retrieved on 12 January 2015. "Siège : 2 place aux Etoiles, 93200 Saint Denis"
  34. ^ Bertrand, Philippe. "La SNCF prend ses nouveaux quartiers à Saint-Denis" (Archive). Les Echos. 29 July 2013.
  35. ^ a b "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."
  36. ^ "Welcome to the SNCF server!" (Archive). SNCF. 3 June 1997. Retrieved on 28 April 2010. "88, Rue St Lazare 75009 PARIS."
  37. ^ "La SNCF veut délocaliser son siège parisien" (Archive). L'Humanité. 23 September 1996. Retrieved on 28 April 2010.
  38. ^ Captrain brand to consolidate international freight operations 12 February 2010,
  39. ^ "Rapport Financier" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 2008.
  40. ^ "Eurostar Ownership & Structure". Eurostar.
  41. ^ SNCF increases its shareholding in Keolis to accelerate the next phase of the company's development Archived 26 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Keolis April 2012
  42. ^ Govia awarded TSGN franchise Govia 23 May 2014
  43. ^ Pepy takes a stake in NTV 10 October 2008,

External links

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