Evaluation of the differential fares policy contemplated for the "T.G.V" (very fast train) service in France (French)

Date of publication: August 23, 1981

Abstract:

In the public transport sector, more than in most others, all the operators are faced by the problem of variations in the level of demand, giving rise in particular to peak traffic periods, with which they must deal as efficiently as possible whilst being handicapped by supply resources that are virtually constant and at all events limited (by size of fleet or rolling-equipment and infrastructure). When, in October 1981, the French Railways (SNCF) puts into service what is known as the TGV, or very fast train, this problem will become even more acute on two counts : firstly, peak demand will rise still further owing to the diversion to rail of a part of the weekend road traffic; and secondly, the supply capacity will suffer an additional restriction to the extent that unlike for other trains, the TGV will not accept standing passengers. For these reasons, the SNCF has formed the intention of applying a differential scale of fares - consisting mainly in raising the charge on Friday and Sunday evenings - so as to damp down the peak demand and, if possible, to fill otherwise empty seats during slacker periods. The aim, of course, is to optimise the financial performance of the service without at the same time sacrificing any of the SNCF's market share and damaging the TGV's public image. The purpose of the study described in this paper was to determine the validity of such a policy in terms of its effectiveness and, more incidentally, of its acceptability.

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