A railway line project will soon link Saint-Etienne, Grenoble and Lyon… to Thionville

By 2026, it will undoubtedly be possible to connect Saint-Etienne, Lyon or Grenoble to Thionville, in Moselle, north of Metz… by train, without going through Paris. This is the project led by a young French cooperative society: Railcoop. The application files were filed this summer.

Already at the origin of the future line between Lyon and Bordeaux, which it has been preparing since 2020, and which should start its service in June 2022, the railway cooperative Railcoop wants to go much further in its approach of complementarity with the SNCF, by providing rail links in other areas which are no longer (or poorly) served.

This will therefore be the case, with, among the ten applications recently filed, the project of a direct line between Lyon and Thionville, north of Metz, in Moselle. ” To be precise, we have submitted files to the Transport Regulatory Authority for projects for the Saint-Etienne / Thionville and Thionville / Grenoble lines. They include a cut in Dijon, where the train separates (coming from Thionville). The portion between Dijon and Saint-Etienne will stop in Lyon »Explains Railcoop.

Do not compete with SNCF

The larger issue is that of the balance of the territory. Admittedly, the TGV already makes it possible to link Nice to Luxembourg, via Lyon. It also serves Metz and Thionville. ” But this is a different market, high speed, with a higher price, which has nothing to do with ours »Explains the press manager at Railcoop.

At a time when Intercity lines are increasingly scarce, Railcoop is betting more on the idea of ​​” take the train differently “. Thus, between Thionville and Lyon, the train should stop at Metz, Nancy, Toul, Neufchâteau, Dijon, Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon before arriving at Lyon Part-Dieu. At his own pace. And without going through Paris.

« Our goal is to complement each other. Our circles of members, who invest in projects, work on different themes. They are reflecting in particular on the lines that we could develop by 2023, with one constant: not to compete with the SNCF. »We are summarized.

Concretely, the application files have therefore been submitted. It is then “SNCF Réseaux” which will issue the transit times for future Railcoop trains. This also takes a little time: ” We are still currently working with them on the timetables for the future Lyon-Bordeaux scheduled for 2023. So it is not possible to tell you how long Lyon-Thionville will last, for example. »

On the price side, decisions will come, again, in due course. ” The objective is to try to place itself at the level of the cost of carpooling »Explains Railcoop, which has until 2026 to start operating its lines.

A profitable business model

Railcoop envisages freight lines (launch planned in two months) as passenger lines (June 2022). The equipment will be leased to a private company, or bought back second-hand from the SNCF.

With each line launched, it will simply be ” put the train back in landlocked territories and connect provincial towns without going through Paris. There is no question of not being profitable. The cooperative has done market research and established its economic model. ” We will not offer fast mass transport. It will simply be a matter of being able to take the train, even in an area that is poorly served today.»

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