On 23 March SNCF and Deutsche Bahn launched the direct high speed rail service between Marseille and Frankfurt. This service, which uses the Rhine-Rhone high speed line, cuts the journey time between south-west Germany and the southern France by 90 minutes and serves the towns of Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Lyon, Mâcon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Besançon, Belfort and Montbéliard, Mulhouse, Strasbourg, Baden-Baden, Karlsruhe and Mannheim. The daily service is operated by the new double-decker “Euroduplex”, capable of transporting passengers at speeds of up to 320 km/h.
“This represents a new step towards the internationalisation of rail traffic in Europe. The opening of this service between Marseille and Frankfurt is an important milestone in our successful cooperation with SNCF”, said DB President Dr Rüdiger Grube. “This service will not only benefit the Rhine-Main region and Marseille, but also the regions between the Upper Rhine and southern France, which will henceforth be more closely integrated into the European long-distance rail transport network”, added Dr Grube.
“After the success of Paris-Stuttgart-Munich and Frankfurt-Paris, the new Rhine-Rhône route opens a new chapter in the Franco-German high speed story”, added Mrs Barbara Dalibard, Director-General of SNCF’s Passenger division and member of SNCF’s General Management Board. “For border residents this is a new opportunity and a green alternative for reaching destinations in southern France more quickly”.
This daily service – a joint venture between SNCF and Deutsche Bahn – will operate two daily round trips using the new double-decker “Euroduplex” trainsets – the third generation of TGV Duplex. The on-board service is one of the line’s greatest assets, with a dedicated French, German and English-speaking crew to take care of customers throughout the journey. Passengers travelling internationally in first class on journeys of over an hour can enjoy exclusive benefits.
Since the opening of the high speed service between the two countries in June 2007, around six million passengers have chosen rail as a comfortable and environmentally-friendly alternative to air transport. Between 2010 and 2011, the number of passengers on these routes rose by 4%.
Due to a growing number of customers preferring to travel by train between city centres, rail saw its market share increase in 2011: with a 56% market share on the Stuttgart-Paris line, the train has gained a competitive advantage over air travel. Rail’s market share of the Frankfurt-Paris route is around 25%.
High speed rail transport between France and Germany has recorded excellent results in terms of customer satisfaction. This aspect was measured via a survey performed by TNS Sofres (research institute) in July 2010: 9 out of 10 passengers considered the service to be highly satisfactory or satisfactory; 92% appreciated the warm welcome of the Franco-German train crew members, and 97% of passengers recommended the service to other people.