Information published on 19 January 2016 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 481.

France: SNCF tests TGV boarding system designed to crack down on fraud and enhance customer experience

  • News from UIC members

From Monday 11 January SNCF is trying out a boarding system for TGV high-speed trains, which will allow passengers to have their tickets checked before boarding. For three months, four different devices will be tested in Paris Montparnasse and Marseille-Saint-Charles stations.
These trials have two aims: to reduce fraud, which costs SNCF 300 million euros every year, and to make rail journeys on the TGV calmer and more worry-free.

Passengers are expected to welcome this initiative as, according to a recent poll, 88% of French people are favourable to ticket checks being carried out before boarding.

How will it work?

The device restricts access to trains to passengers with a valid transport document. Before getting on the train, passengers must validate their travel document at ticket gates fitted with contactless readers.

These devices will recognise all TGV ticket formats, i.e. traditional tickets (IATA format), those printed on plain paper and those on a card or smartphone. The aim is to install these contactless readers at all main TGV destinations by 2017. The trial will be carried out on two platforms at each station concerned, with a different prototype on each platform, making a total of four.

Dedicated queues will be provided for all customers, whether season-ticket holders, business or leisure travellers. A wider ticket gate will be reserved for wheelchair users and passengers with pushchairs. A boarding team will be on hand to greet, direct and assist customers.

This experiment is part of a national plan to combat fraud and is in line with the boarding schemes for passengers that have been operating since 2012 at a certain number of stations (Rennes, Marseille-Saint-Charles, Montparnasse, Paris Gare du Nord, etc.). This boarding system has proved successful and has significantly reduced fraud on trains leaving these stations.

SNCF to test the TGV boarding system with customers

Throughout the phase of testing and observing the prototypes installed in the stations, SNCF will work with customer groups to try out new ideas, with the aim of further improving customer service. Following a meeting with the Council of Associations at the end of 2015, they will be invited on site at the beginning of February.

A more personalised relationship with our customers

The dedicated TGV boarding teams will contribute to enhancing customer experience through new attitudes to service on the platform: staff will be on hand to assist travellers where necessary, if they need to buy or exchange a ticket at the last minute, and the boarding manager will aid and ensure smooth boarding for passengers with disabilities and for families, directing them to their coaches, with the assistance of the train manager.

By reducing the need for checks, SNCF also wishes to enhance services on board the train, by providing more information for passengers, more personalised customer care, in particular for the more vulnerable traveller (the elderly, the disabled, etc.), and by paying greater attention to comfort on board, being more attentive to the needs of every one of our passengers.

When tickets have been checked before departure, the journey can be more tranquil, both for customers and for customer service staff on the train. Staff will be free to assist passengers and be available to provide them with a more enhanced service.

(Source: SNCF)