France’s SNCF ends free last-minute refunds on train tickets

France's SNCF ends free last-minute refunds on train tickets
Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP.
Since March 2020, travellers in France have been able to exchange or cancel train tickets up until the last minute without being charged. This policy has come to an end, French rail operator SNCF has announced.

The measure had been introduced at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and applied to all TGV and Intercité trains.

Travellers could change or cancel their tickets right up to the set departure time with no fees, as SNCF tried to tempt passengers back after 18 months of several curtailed travel.

But from Monday, September 13th, the free cancellation policy will only apply up to three days before departure.

“There were unfortunately some clients who were overdoing it, they were holding onto seven or eight tickets, and only keeping one,” SNCF boss Jean-Pierre Farandou told news programme ‘Le Grand Jury’ on Sunday, “so there were several seats that remained empty at the last minute.”

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Farandou added however that the policy had been effective during the pandemic: “I’m sure that it contributed to the fact that more people dared to buy a train ticket.”

It will still be possible to exchange or cancel tickets fewer than three days before departure, but for a fee of €15 for TGV Inoui trains, or 40 percent of the ticket price up to a maximum of €12 for Intercités. There are no refunds for Ouigo tickets, but these can be exchanged up to an hour and a half before departure.

Adults travelling on TGV and Intercité trains are currently required to show a health pass, and this will be extended to all over-12s from September 30th.

Farandou said SNCF would be aiming to check passes for “30, 40 percent of trains”.


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