You had planned to take the train for the Christmas holidays, but your trip has just been canceled ? There may be a way to still get around. the social movement of the controllers of the SNCFwhich call for better recognition of the specificity of this profession, essentially affects high-speed lines: two TGV out of five are removed. This means that it is still possible to travel by train, with the Intercités network – which is, by the way, the largest rail network in France – or via the TER.
How to travel by Intercités: the guide
The website of the SNCF does not facilitate access to this information. When you arrive on its home page, it is impossible to indicate the type of train you want to take. These are the high-speed lines (TGV and Ouigo) which appear by default. To find the routes of the intercity and regional networks, go to this page. Only then can one choose to travel only by trains « Intercities ». Do not forget to uncheck the boxes for high-speed trains before carrying out your search to finally access all the route possibilities.
A more flexible formula, but longer journeys
The advantage is that most tickets can be purchased at the last minute. With the exception of a few Intercités lines which require a compulsory reservation (with numbered seats) such as Béziers-Clermont-Ferrand, Nantes-Bordeaux or Toulouse-Hendaye, the TER and the majority of Intercités trains, from Paris to Limoges, from Bordeaux to Marseille or from Nantes to Lyon, can be taken on site. It is also possible, for the Intercités, to reserve a place and thus benefit from a seat. Be careful though: these trains are likely to be crowded, and many of them are already sold out.
Read also: Return of TER Grenoble-Gap : « What a joy to see the train again ! »
Regarding the speed of the journey, there will certainly be, depending on the destination, more changes and the trains will be slower. With an Intercité, the journey Bordeaux-Nantes is made without reservation in four hours, but to go to Paris, it will be necessary to take a TER to Limoges then an Intercités train (around seven hours in all). The opportunity to delve into one of the works recommended in the cultural selection of the editorial staff of Reporterre, or to fall asleep. Because it is also possible to travel at night between Paris and Briançon, Nice, Albi, Cerbère or Hendaye.
A rail network in poor health
Being able to find an alternative solution to TGV cannot make us forget the deep reasons for the strike and the malaise at the SNCF. For years, the railway network has been poorly maintained, as we have shown in a major survey in 2018. Since then, things have improved little: underinvestment weakens the maintenance of the tracksand the government chooses to invest in new lines TGVwith questionable interest and major ecological cost, rather than supporting the « daily trains ».