French government call for ‘price shield’ on train tickets

Ticket prices on French trains will increase in 2023, but there will be a 'price shield' to keep the increases below inflation, according to the transport minister.

French government call for 'price shield' on train tickets
Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Transport minister Clément Beaune, interviewed on Sunday, said that ticket prices will rise in “early 2023”.

However he said he had asked the state-owned rail operator SNCF to work on a bouclier tarifaire (price shield) in order to keep the rises below inflation. Inflation in France is currently running at around seven percent.

Although details of the new fare structure are yet to be confirmed, Beaune told RTL that the price shield would mainly be applied to the high-speed TGV trains, with “those who need the train every day, those on low incomes and young people who use the budget OuiGo lines” protected from price rises.

Explained: How France is keeping its inflation rate (relatively) low

SNCF boss Jean-Pierre Farandou said that the railway company anticipates an increase in its electricity bill of at least €1.6 billion in 2023.

“If we were to pass on this increase directly to the cost of the ticket, we would have to increase TGV tickets by 10 percent,” said Farandou at a Senate hearing in September. But he added: “Rest assured, we will not pass on 100 percent of the costs to customers.”

How to save money travelling by train in France

The French government has already imposed a price shield on utility bills, with gas prices frozen at 2021 levels and electricity price rises capped at four percent. This will change from the beginning of 2023, when utility companies will be able to raise prices by up to 15 percent – a monthly increase of around €20 for the average household.

A fuel rebate of 30 cents a litre has also benefited motorists filling up their cars with petrol or diesel, but French consumers have seen prices rise for food and other everyday items.

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UK police arrest man over 2021 deaths of 27 people in Channel tragedy

UK police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of playing a "key role" in the deaths of at least 27 people who drowned attempting to cross the Channel in a dinghy last November.

UK police arrest man over 2021 deaths of 27 people in Channel tragedy

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said 32-year-old Harem Ahmed Abwbaker was arrested at an address near Cheltenham, southwest England.

He is suspected of being “a member of the organised crime group who conspired to transport the migrants to the UK in a small boat”.

NCA investigators are working with the French authorities to track down those responsible for the tragedy.

French prosecutors have so far charged 10 people for their alleged role in the disaster on November 24 last year.

It was the worst accident in the Channel since the narrow strait became a key route for people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia attempting to reach England from France.

The vessel sank after leaving the French coast, leading to the death of all but two of those aboard. Four people remain missing.

The suspect will appear before London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, where extradition proceedings to France will commence.

READ ALSO What is France doing to prevent small-boat crossings of the Channel?

Charges faced there include the French equivalent of manslaughter and facilitating illegal immigration.

“This is a significant arrest and comes as part of extensive inquiries into the events leading to these tragic deaths in the Channel,” said NCA deputy director Craig Turner.

“The individual detained today is suspected of having played a key role in the manslaughter of those who died.

“Working closely with our French partners we are determined to do all we can to get justice for the families of those whose lives were lost,” he added.

Among the 27 – aged seven to 47 – were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese.

Tributes and demonstrations took place on Thursday for the 27 victims of the tragedy that France’s interior minister admitted should have been prevented.

Several boats packed with rescuers and local elected figures took to sea off the coast of Dunkirk to mark the anniversary.

“It’s a tragedy that we were expecting and there will probably be others,” said the head of the local branch of the SNSM lifeboat service, Alain Ledaguenel.