EXPLAINED: How certain train fares in France are set to rise

France's national rail service SNCF announced on Friday it would be increasing some fare prices for TGV high speed trains and some regional services.

EXPLAINED: How certain train fares in France are set to rise
An SNCF worker attends passengers next to a TGV (high speed train) at the railway station in Bordeaux in 2021 (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

After several weeks of assessing how to manage additional costs due to the energy crisis, the French national rail service, SNCF, said it planned increase fares by an average of five percent for its TGV services and regional trains.

The rise in ticket prices will begin in 2023, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, Christophe Fanichet told BFMTV on Friday.

“We are facing additional costs of 13 percent in 2023, so we will have to bear more than half of this,” Fanichet said, adding that the rail operator could have opted to reduce services but “did not want to do so.”

Not all tickets will become more expensive – the rise in pricing will primarily affect “maximum fares” – or tickets booked at the last minute. Additionally, “Business Premiere” tickets will automatically increase by an average of five percent.

Fanichet told BFMTV that “sometimes [the increase] will be less than [five percent], sometimes more” because the adjustments in price will be made through a process called ‘yield management’, which is a marketing technique that structures fares based on demand and timing.

READ MORE: How to find cheap train tickets in France

Certain frequent traveller offers will also be impacted – such as the “Liberté” card, and the “Max Actif” and “Max Actif +” offers.

All train riders in France will be impacted by the rail service’s change to its exchange and refund conditions. During the pandemic, passengers were allowed to exchange and refund tickets up to three days prior to departure. However, starting in February, this period will be extended to seven days prior to departure.

At the request of Transport Minister Clément Beaune, SNCF agreed to maintain a “price shield” by maintaining Ouigo – or low-cost service – tickets at the same fare structure (meaning these tickets will not increase in price in 2023).

Additionally, the minimum prices, or those charged at the start of ticket sales, will not be increased. These moves are intended to protect lower income customers from price shocks.

Some discount cards will also remain at their current pricing in 2023 – for instance, the Carte Avantage will stay at their current price of €49. 

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Péage: Toll rates for motorists in France to increase in 2023

France's Ministry of Transport has announced that toll-fees will increase in 2023. Here is what motorists in France can expect.

Péage: Toll rates for motorists in France to increase in 2023

With French motorists already expecting increases in fuel prices starting in January, the cost of travel on many of France’s motorways will also increase in 2023.

Toll rates on the main routes across France are set to go up by an average of 4.75 percent starting on February 1st, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Transport on Friday.

These rates already rose by two percent in 2022. 

While the increase is still lower than the rate of inflation (six percent), motorists in France can still expect driving to become more expensive in 2023, as the government does away with its broad-scale fuel rebate (€0.10 off the litre) at the start of January.

As of early December, the French government was still discussing plans for how to replace the fuel rebate. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, told Les Echoes in November that the government was considering a targeted, means-tested “fuel allowance” for workers who depend on their vehicles to commute to and from work. 

How much will I be affected?

The degree to which drivers will experience increased costs depends largely on what kind of vehicle they use, in addition to how far you plan to drive on the toll-road. 

Vehicles are broadly classified as follows:

Class 1 (Light vehicles): these are cars and minivans. This class also includes vehicles pulling trailers with a combined height of no more than 2m and a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of less than or equal to 3.5 tonnes.
Class 2: Large utility vehicles and camping cars
Class 3: Heavy goods vehicles, coaches, other 2-axle vehicles, motorhomes taller than 3m
Class 4: Vehicles taller than 3m with a GVW greater than 3.5 tonnes
Class 5: Motorbikes, sidecars, quad bikes, three-wheeled motor vehicles 

The next determining factor for how significant the price rise will be depends on which company is operating the road you use, and there are several different companies that operate toll-roads in France. 

Each year, toll (péage) prices in France are adjusted and re-evaluated for the following year on February 1st, following discussions between the government and the main companies that operate the French freeways. The fees are in part used for road maintenance costs. 

To estimate the cost of tolls for your next French road trip, you can use the calculator on this website