What are the possible ways to give rise to the “tariff shield” requested by the government?

Do not raise prices, yes, but how? The issue must shake the SNCF management, following the words of Clément Beaune, on Sunday, November 6, on the tray of the “Grand Jury RTL-LCI-The Figaro. The Minister of Transport asked the public company to “work on ticket prices on a shield tariff” what for “The increase in banknotes is in any case less than inflation”. It must be said that the high inflation that France is experiencing -6.2% per year in October, according to INSEE- and the explosion in energy prices are hitting the railway company hard.

In mid-September, his boss, Jean-Pierre Farandou, assured that SNCF Voyageurs’ electricity bill should increase from 1.6 to 1.7 billion euros in 2023. “If we reflect directly [cette hausse] on the cost of the ticket, we would have to increase the TGV tickets by 10%”had warned, while promising that SNCF would not pass “not 100% of costs on customers”. But, despite the promises, the public company has few levers.

Specific increases on certain trains?

One of the ways considered by the government is to concentrate price increases on certain trains. The goal : That those who need the train daily, the most modest, the young people who use the Ouigo for example, be protected”Clement Beaune explained. In practice, the idea is “preserve those who have most need to take the train and have the lowest income”specifies the cabinet of the minister to France Télévisions, in “protect Ouigo subscriptions and prices”.

If this solution is adopted, it increases “below inflation” it will probably have to be implemented in other types of tickets, specifies the same source. The largest consumer of electricity in France, the group does not benefit from the price shield established by the government for households. The option is requested in particular by the president of the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region, Laurent Wauquiez, who voted for an increase in TER prices by 2023, reports the Tout Lyon site. But this shield is currently excluded by the government.

A tax of 3 euros on each ticket?

To control the increase in its prices, the SNCF could establish “a model equivalent to the ‘kerosene surcharge’ applied in the airline industry”suggests The Figaro. In practice, this would lead to a “temporary electricity surcharge of 3 euros on all main line tickets”, which would make it possible to finance the additional costs pending a fall in the price of electricity. But, according to the newspaper, this solution “It seems complicated to configure technically”. The SNCF also plans, according to the newspaper, to increase the maximum prices of the Avantage cards by a few euros on a temporary basis.

A VAT reduction?

How to give air to the SNCF budget, when the company’s room for maneuver is limited? One way proposed and demanded by some political figures, such as the president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, would be to increase VAT to 5.5% on transport tickets, compared to the current 10%. But this request has so far remained a dead letter, as she explained West of France.

According to information from Parisian, the State is working on a boost for transport users, but it will not affect the TGVs. In any case, the measure will be much less ambitious than the introduction in Germany of a monthly subscription of 49 euros that includes all public transport in the country.

A budget expansion of the State?

As a last resort, the public company could decide to turn to the government to expand its budget. In September, Jean-Pierre Farandou also called for an additional €100 billion in investments over 15 years, in particular to repair and invest in infrastructure. A message heard by the deputies, who voted on October 31 an amendment that grants 3,000 million euros to the railway, within the framework of the 2023 budget bill, reports Point. Rejected by the government, this new expense should not be kept in the final text.

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