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French Train Service, SNCF, Appeals to Millennials with ...

French Train Service, SNCF, Appeals to Millennials with Crowdsourced Scheduling

There is no doubt that the SNCF (French National Train Service) is seeking to attract young people with its new marketing move, TGV pop. TGV pop is a 100% digital offer, with tariffs that vary between 25 and 35 euros; where the time of departure is entirely in the hands of Internet users. How does it

SNCF TGV, France

There is no doubt that the SNCF (French National Train Service) is seeking to attract young people with its new marketing move, TGV pop. TGV pop is a 100% digital offer, with tariffs that vary between 25 and 35 euros; where the time of departure is entirely in the hands of Internet users.

How does it work?

The offer proposed by TGV pop runs in four phases:

  1. The SNCF publishes the destinations of departures and arrivals on the website two weeks before the potential departure. For example, the trip from Paris-Avignon, set for the 5th of July, is currently online. The hour of departure is not indicated, only general timeframes: "morning," "afternoon," and "evening."
  2. It is at this point that users intervene. Amongst all of the proposed itineraries, they vote for those that interest them the most. One can then observe on the TGV screen as the number of votes progresses. Once the marker labelled “GO!” is passed, the train will officially be scheduled to leave at that date.
  3. Beginning the next day, voters will receive an email announcing the opening of ticket sales.
  4. Internet users need only reserve the tickets, between 25 and 35 euros a piece, and then wait for the day of departure.

If words do not suffice, here is a video from the SNCF about the offer (in French).

Waiting for TGV train at Narbonne, France Train Station

The Desire to Create a “Pop-up” Community

More than a simple space for reserving spots online, the SNCF talks about the communal aspect of the TGV, where travelers can share the “pop-up experience.” Once they sign up, Internet users can specify their areas of interest. Once “on board the train” they can meet up, thanks to a Twitter feed called @DansLeTGV. This will likely happen in the train bar, which is specially set up for this purpose.

The new plan offers 100,000 spots in 203 TGV trains, including more than 30 “summer” destinations.

Already Controversial

The name TGV pop can’t help but bring to mind UberPop, the transportation service abhorred by taxis. The controversy is growing, and the SNCF has reacted, saying: “There is no link between TGV pop and UberPop. Our new offer has been in the works for several months, well before the controversy created by UberPop,” a spokesperson explained in an article by the Libération.

What do you think of the TGV pop plan? Does your transit provider provide crowdsourced scheduling? Would train users be more likely to ride if they had more flexibility over train scheduling? Share your thoughts and your community's stories in the comments area below. 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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