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Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français
Locale France and Monaco1
Predecessor See SNCF History
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Length 32,000 km (20,000 mi)
Headquarters Montparnasse and 14th arrondissement, Paris

The SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français; "National society of French railways" or "French National Railway Company") is France's national state-owned railway company. The SNCF operates the country's national rail services, including the TGV, France's high-speed rail network. Its functions include operation of railway services for passengers and freight, and maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure owned by Réseau Ferré de France (RFF).

The SNCF employs more than 180,000 people in 120 countries across the globe. The railway network consists of about 32,000 km (20,000 mi) of route, of which 1,800 km (1,100 mi) are high-speed lines and 14,500 km (9,000 mi) electrified. About 14,000 trains are operated daily. The company's headquarters is in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, in the Rue du Commandant Mouchotte.2

As of 2010 the SNCF was ranked 22nd in France and 214th globally on the Fortune Global 500 list.3

It's the main sector of the group SNCF which, in 2011, employs 245 090 people, realized €32.6 billion of sales in 120 countries. The chairman of the group SNCF is Guillaume Pépy.

Business scope

A high-speed train TGV Duplex from SNCF
TGV 4402 operation V150 reaching 574 km/h on 3 April 2007 near Le Chemin, France.

High-speed rail

The SNCF operates almost all of France's railway system, including the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, meaning "High-Speed Train"), In the 1970s, the SNCF began the TGV high-speed train programme with the intention of creating the world's fastest railway network. It came to fruition in 1981, when the first TGV service, from Paris to Lyon, was inaugurated. Today, the SNCF operates 1,850 km (about 1,150 miles) of designated high-speed track that accommodate more than 800 high-speed services per day. The SNCF’s TGV trains carry more than 100 million passengers a year. TGV lines and TGV technology are now spread across several European countries in addition to South Korea.

In the past the SNCF also owned the tracks, but this has changed due to EU Directive 91/440. Since 1997 the tracks and signalling have belonged to a separate government body, Réseau Ferré de France; this change was intended to open the market to independent train operating companies, although few have yet appeared. RFF contracts all track maintenance and the operation of signalling to the SNCF, which also retains ownership of all the stations.

The SNCF's TGV has set many world speed records, the most recent on 3 April 2007, when a new version of the TGV dubbed the V150 with larger wheels than the usual TGV, was able to cover more ground with each rotation and had a stronger 25,000 hp (18,600 kW) engine, and broke the world speed record for conventional railway trains, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph).

The SNCF has a remarkable safety record. After nearly 30 years in operation, SNCF’s TGV system has never experienced a fatal accident.

SNCF operations

Since the 1990s, the SNCF has been selling railway carriages to regional governments, with the creation of the Train Express Régional brand. SNCF also maintains a broad scope of international business that includes work on freight lines, inter-city lines and commuter lines. SNCF experts provide logistics, design, construction, operations and maintenance services. The SNCF operates the international ticketing agency, Voyages SNCF (formerly Rail Europe).

The SNCF has employees in 120 countries offering extensive overseas and cross border consulting. Those projects include:

  • Israel: Assistance and Training. SNCF International provides assistance to Israel Railways in every area of rail operations including projects to upgrade the network's general safety regulations. Other assistance and training programmes involve Infrastructure and the Traction Division.
  • Taiwan: Operations Training. SNCF supervised the prime contractor responsible for construction of the Taiwan Railways Administration’s main high-speed rail line. It also trained rail traffic controllers, drivers, and crew members. On behalf of the Government of Taiwan, the SNCF managed the high-speed railway Command Control Centre.
  • United Kingdom: Maintenance. In 2007-2008, SNCF-International consultants audited the maintenance practices applied to the track, signalling and overhead electric power line on British high-speed rail lines connecting London to the Channel Tunnel. In addition, it conducted an audit of the maintainer’s performance from the service quality and cost control standpoint, made recommendations for improvements, and proposed a three-year Business Plan.
  • South Korea: HSR Electrification Design. The SNCF advised Korean Railroads on the electrification of tracks between Daegu and Busan and on linking existing conventional tracks to the new high-speed line. The SNCF also assisted in selecting and inspecting high-speed rolling stock and trained 400 senior manager, engineers, and executives in a broad range of skills, including signalling, catenaries, track, rolling stock maintenance, HSR operation, safety management, marketing, and passenger information systems. Until the end of 2009, the SNCF assisted Korea in maintaining its high-speed.
  • Spain: Signalling System. The SNCF partnered with ADIF (Spanish railway infrastructure provider) in the study, supply, installation, and maintenance of the standard EU railway signaling system along the Madrid-Lleida high-speed line. On behalf of the Spanish Government, the SNCF designed and led maintenance operations on this line over a two-year period.
  • France: Lead Infrastructure and Rolling Stock Maintainer – The scope of the SNCF’s maintenance duties is staggering: it maintains 32,000 km (20,000 mi) of track, 26,500 main sets of points and crossings, 2,300 signal boxes, 80,000 track circuits, over 1 million relays, etc. On the rolling stock side, the SNCF maintains 3,900 locomotives and 500 high-speed trains. Each of SNCF’s TGV trains travels more than 39,000 km (24,000 mi) a month – enough to circle the globe. Each year the SNCF’s Human Resources Department provides over 1.2 million hours of training to its over 25,000 employees.


SNCF diesel locomotive in Amiens.

The SNCF was formed in 1938 with the nationalisation of France's five main railway companies (Chemin de fer, literally, 'path of iron', means railway). These were the:

The French state originally took 51% ownership of the SNCF and invested large amounts of public subsidies into the system. Today, the SNCF is 100% owned by the French state.

World War II

Following the 1940 Armistice through August 1944, SNCF was requisitioned for the transport of German armed forces and armaments. The invading German troops were responsible for the destruction of nearly 350 French railway bridges and tunnels. According to differing estimates, SNCF surrendered between 125,000-213,000 wagons and 1,000-2,000 locomotives.45

France's railway infrastructure and rolling stocks were a target for the French Resistance aimed at disrupting and fighting the German occupying forces.67 This allowed SNCF employees to perform many acts of resistance,8 including the formation of the Résistance-Fer movement in 1943. Nearly 1,700 SNCF railway workers were killed or deported for resisting Nazi orders.910 150 Résistance-Fer agents were shot for their acts of resistance, 500 of them were deported. Half of those deported died in concentration camps.11

German occupying forces in France also requisitioned SNCF to transport nearly 77,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims to Nazi extermination camps.1213 These deportations have been the subject of historical controversy and lawsuits (such as the Lipietz case) in France as well as in the United States to the present day.1014

In 1992, the SNCF commissioned French academics to write a history of the SNCF activities during World War II. The resultant report was published in 1996.1516

More recently, some sources have claimed that SNCF billed Nazi-occupied France for third-class tickets for Holocaust victims transported to extermination camps,1718 although passengers were transported in cattle cars.19 Other sources have reported that after the liberation of France, SNCF continued to seek payment for transporting Holocaust victims to Germany.1720 However, historian Michael Marrus has written that claims that the SNCF billed for third-class tickets and continued to seek payment after the war ended were made as part of a legal case brought against the SNCF, and did not match with historians' understanding of what happened. Marrus argues that the SNCF had no margin of maneuver during the German occupation and that the actions of SNCF employees were not ideologically motivated.13

According to Serge Klarsfeld, president of the organization Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France, the SNCF was forced by German and Vichy authorities to cooperate in providing transport for French Jews to the border and did not make any profit from this transport.21

A "broken nose" style of SNCF electric locomotive (21000-class) designed by Paul Arzens


The industrial designer Paul Arzens styled many of SNCF's locomotives from the 1940s until the 1970s. A particularly distinctive type is the "broken nose" style of electric and diesel locomotives.

Modern day

The SNCF is a recognised leader in eco-mobility with a commitment to become the world’s first operator to offer carbon neutral travel at no extra cost to travellers. The SNCF has cut emissions on its cross-channel Paris To London route by 31% in two years by using more electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. The SNCF’s 39 manufacturing facilities are in the process of “going green” and 9 sites are already ISO 14000 certified. The SNCF developed an interactive website to help travellers calculate the environmental impact of their travel choices.

Codeshare with airlines

SNCF codeshares with Air Austral, Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Middle East Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and SriLankan Airlines. In exchange, the SNCF allows passengers on these flights to book railway services between Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy (near Paris) and Aix-en-Provence, Angers, Avignon, Bordeaux, Le Mans, Lille, Lyon Part-Dieu, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nîmes, Poiters, Rennes, Tours, and Valence with their airline. The IATA designator used by airlines in connection with these journeys is 2C.citation needed

Continental Airlines discontinued its codeshare with the SNCF on 15 August 2010.22

Company structure and subsidiaries

SNCF head office
SNCF automatic ticket distributing machine at the Épône-Mézières station.

Head office

The SNCF has its head office in the Montparnasse area of the 14th arrondissement of Paris,2 located near the Gare Montparnasse.23

The SNCF used to have its head office at 88 Rue Saint-Lazare in the 9th arrondissement.2324 In 1996 the chairman of the SNCF, Louis Gallois, announced that the SNCF would move its headquarters to a new location during the middle of 1997.25


As of 2012 the SNCF consists of five divisions:26

  • SNCF Infra is the infrastructure division of the SNCF, and carries out track and other infrastructure maintenance, design and construction. Subsidiaries in the group include Systra, Inexia and SNCF International.
  • SNCF Proximités is responsible for urban, commuter and regional passenger transport. Constituent parts include TER, Transilien and Intercités (formerly Corail intercités, Lunéa and Téoz) as well as subsidiaries including Keolis
  • SNCF Voyages is responsible for long distance and high-speed passenger services. Constituent parts include TGV as well as subsidiaries including Eurostar, Thalys, Lyria and iDTGV
  • SNCF Geodis is the rail and general freight logistics section of the SNCF, including Fret SNCF and other European rail freight companies (since 2010 collected under the brand Captrain27), as well as rail-freight stock management companies including France Wagons and Ermewa.
  • Gares & Connexions was created in April 2009 for station management, land management, and land development. The division manages 3000 stations in France, as well as other activities through Groupe AREP (Civil engineering), Groupe A2C (real estate management) and Parvis.


The SNCF has full or partial shares in a large number of companies, the majority of which are rail or transport related. These include:28

  • Geodis (100%)
  • ERMEWA (100%)
  • France Wagons (100%)
  • SGW : Société de Gérance de Wagons (67.5%)
  • CTC : Compagnie des Transports Céréaliers (69.36%)
  • SEGI (98.96%)
  • Naviland Cargo (94.37%) previously CNC, Compagnie Nationale de Conteneurs.

General freight transport:

  • C-Modalohr Express (51%)
  • Novatrans (38.25%)
  • Districhrono (100%)
  • Ecorail (99.9%)
  • Froidcombi (48.93%)
  • Rouch Intermodal (98.96%)
  • Sefergie (98.96%)

Passenger transport




See also


  1. ^ "Monaco Railway Photographs". 
  2. ^ "Global 500 2010: Countries". CNN. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  3. ^ Jones, Joseph (1984). The Politics of Transport in Twentieth-Century France. McGill Queens University Press. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0773504281. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Mierzejewski (2000). The Most Valuable Asset of the Reich: A History of the German National Railway Volume 2, 1933-1945. The university of North Carolina Press. p. 84. ISBN 0807825743. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Ribeill, Georges (2002-2003). "Obstétrique de guerre: Le cas de la SNCF (1939-1945)". Les Cahiers de Recits, Laboratoire de Recherche sur les Choix Industriels, Technologiques et Scientifiques (in French) (Belfort-Montbéliard: Université de Technologie Belfort-Montbéliard) 2: 49–61. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  6. ^ Christofferson, Thomas; Christofferson, Michael (2006). France during World War II: From Defeat to Liberation. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-2563-7. 
  7. ^ Durand, Paul (1968). La SNCF pendant la guerre, sa résistance à l'occupant. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. 
  8. ^ Lombard, Marie-Amélie (2011-01-25). "Shoah : les "regrets" de la SNCF". Le Figaro (France). Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  9. ^ a b Baume, Maïa De La (25 January 2011). "French Railway Formally Apologizes to Holocaust Victims". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Ribeill, Georges (2006). "Résistance-Fer, du " réseau " à l’association". Revue d’histoire des chemins de fer 34: 53–73. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  11. ^ Shaver, Katherine (7 July 2010). "Holocaust group faults VRE contract". The Washington Post. ISSN 0740-5421. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  12. ^ a b Marrus, Michael R. (2011). "Chapter 12 The Case of the French Railways and the Deportation of Jews in 1944". In Bankier, David; Michman, Dan. Holocaust and Justice. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-9-65308-353-0. 
  13. ^ CBC News (7 June 2006). "French railway must pay for transporting family to Nazis". Retrieved 9 June 2006. 
  14. ^ "Facilitating historical research". SNCF. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (20 May 2011). "U.S. bill requires French rail company to disclose 'truth' of its Holocaust role". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Chrisafis, Angelique (7 June 2006). "French state and SNCF guilty of collusion in deporting Jews". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^ "French railways win WWII appeal". BBC News. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "SNCF airs Holocaust regret as it bids for Florida rail | News | The Week UK". 2010-11-15. 
  19. ^ Riding, Alan (20 Mar 2003). "Nazis' Human Cargo Now Haunts French Railway". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  20. ^ Serge Klarsfeld (26 June 2012). "Analysis of Statements Made During the June 20, 2012 Hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee of the Judiciary". Memorial de la Shoah. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  21. ^ "United Airlines - Airline Tickets, Vacations Packages, Travel Deals, and Company Information on". Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. 
  22. ^ a b "Le siège haut perché de la SNCF à Montparnasse." Les Echos. 20 May 1999. Page 54. Retrieved on 1 May 2010. "Pari tenu : réceptionné le 19 mars par Bouygues Immobilier et livré à son occupant dix jours plus tard, le nouveau siège de la SNCF est sorti de la gangue du grand ensemble de la gare Montparnasse, dans le 14e arrondissement de Paris, en quinze mois d'un chantier intense qui a mobilisé sur place jusqu'à 650 personnes. Quelque 800 postes de travail sont concernés sur les 2.500 qui gravitaient hier autour du siège historique de Saint-Lazare (9e arrondissement), consacrant la partition entre une direction générale resserrée et des services centraux pléthoriques."
  23. ^ "Welcome to the SNCF server!" SNCF. 3 June 1997. Retrieved on 28 April 2010. "88, Rue St Lazare 75009 PARIS."
  24. ^ "La SNCF veut délocaliser son siège parisien." L'Humanité. 23 September 1996. Retrieved on 28 April 2010.
  25. ^ SNCF One group, 5 divisions
  26. ^ Captrain brand to consolidate international freight operations 12/2/2010 ,
  27. ^ "Rapport Financier" (in French). Retrieved 23 August 2008. dead link
  28. ^ "Eurostar Ownership & Structure". Eurostar. 
  29. ^ Pepy takes a stake in NTV 10/10/2008 ,

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