What are the options for booking train tickets?

Decryption – Launched about two months ago, the new SNCF platform continues to attract the wrath of users Did they know that other sites and applications often offer simpler and more complete alternatives? Our track record.

It must be a revolution for millions of passengers. A single platform that will combine two major SNCF sites and applications: Oui.sncf (sales) and SNCF Assistant (data). Search TER schedule, buy or exchange a TGV or Thalis ticket, current disruption information … everything will now go through SNCF Connect. Oui.sncf’s successor was born on January 25, 2022, in the pipeline for more than a year.

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But the promise of simplicity is far from being honored for now. If a new site or a new application often needs some modification during its launch, it is clear that SNCF Connect has exceeded all records of dissatisfaction. If the app is rated 4.2 / 5 on Google Play, this rating takes into account the opinions expressed before the name change. Recent comments, often embellished with 1/5, point out numerous errors and point to the disappearance of many practical features that exist in Oui.sncf.

Missing all floor features and bugs

It would be tedious to make a complete list of all the things that went wrong. According to SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou, 150 bugs (at least) have been identified. The disappearance of the best-priced calendar, the impossibility of adding a stage to its itinerary, or a trip to its agenda … so many features that the company promises to reunite. There are some inconsistencies whose secret lies only with the SNCF. For example, if it is possible to purchase Ouigo tickets at SNCF Connect, you must change the Ouigo site …

According to an internal memo suggested by our colleagues at RTL, some TER tickets appear as “fake” when scanned by a controller. Travelers have noticed that their reservation disappears from the application right after the purchase … when others see an error message while trying to make a payment. Customers also point to the lack of ergonomics of the platform, which invites them to enter “one destination, one request” based on a search bar. Thus, when we enter the “Paris Marseille”, we are advised to have the Ru de Marseille in Paris or the Boulevard de Paris in Marseille … but not the road between the two cities. Typing “exchange” or “cancel”, for example, surprisingly doesn’t yield any results.

Expected improvement at the end of March

How to get there SNCF? SNCF Connect & Tech, a digital subsidiary of SNCF Voyageurs, however, has invested heavily in bringing together 200 developers for one year and inviting around 4,000 users to test the beta version. The challenge was “significant” for a site that, prior to the Covid-19 epidemic, could boast of being the leading French online business in terms of volume (4.7 billion euros for 110 million ticket sales in 2018). The application has now received a total of 23 million downloads.

Faced with user dissatisfaction, the transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Zebari, called on the company to fix the bugs. “As soon as possibleIts CEO, Jean-Pierre Farando, has promised improvements in the coming weeks. A temporary calendar has been unveiled: adding reservations to the diary (end of March), best-priced calendar (first semester) … adding tickets to Apple Wallet again March Possible from the beginning.

Hand-to-hand competition …

Trainline activity has grown exponentially since the launch of SNCF Connect. Screenshot

Meanwhile, the pitfalls of the new SNCF platform benefit its competitors. Trainline, Omio, TicketTrip … These multimodal comparators allow you to book train tickets (but bus, plane or carpooling) both in France and abroad. Price and after-sales terms (exchange, refund …) are the same as the official channels of the railway company, and national discount cards are accepted.

In the week following the launch of SNCF Connect, sales of TGV and Ouigo have increased by 50% over the previous three weeks.Welcoming Christopher Michau, Director of Operator Relations Train line. The British platform recorded a 28% increase in new subscribers compared to the previous record of August 2020. Not approved with any company, but still SNCF offers to purchase or renew reduction card, the trainline offers routes with 270 trains and 45 bus operators in the country. You can buy tickets for Thalis, Renfe, Blueblocker bus or Flixbus. “For example, between Paris and Lyon, we could offer an outbound trip with Oigo and a return to Trentitalia competing on the same booking.“, Explained Christopher Michau.

… and provides unique services

Trainline offers a feature that does not exist with its competitors: “recovery ‘delay”, which allows travelers who have experienced delays to be informed of the compensation they are entitled to under the G30 Guarantee (1). No need to fill out a form: Compensation requests are sent automatically and passengers are reimbursed within a few days via voucher or bank transfer. Going through the official SNCF channel, this more time consuming process requires going through a dedicated site.

In the same consciousness, Omio, Which did not want to comment on the launch of SNCF Connect, offers travel with a thousand transportation partners for train and bus journeys, but also offers travel by plane and ferry to 37 countries, including the United States. The German platform is especially suitable for traveling in Europe, such as the French comparator Combo (combo.co). There is no need for foreign operators to search for information about routes or prices on the site.

For its part, the French site Tickettrip (Which does not yet have an application but a site, tictactrip.eu) Carpooling (including bloblocker) and “combined” (train / car + carpooling) travel tips. Convenient if you want to reach a destination that is not served by train.

The SNCF is protected by a former competitor

Nonetheless, the pitfalls of SNCF Connect have sparked outrage on Twitter. Jean-Daniel Gaiot, founder of the Captain Train in 2009 (which will become Captain Train before taking over the train line in 2016), added his stone to the controversy. In a series of tweets, he delays criticism of SNCF Connect. “Captain was at the first interface of the train … just a plain text field. We thought we had an invincible idea there that was going to crush the exclusive monster. Our customers will fall in love with this simplicity. Test after test, we realized it was a false good idea. There are 1000 ways to describe the ride you want to takeA

Far from being shot in an ambulance, Jean-Daniel Guyot supports SNCF Connect teams, which have been empowered to respond to customer complaints (+ 30% staff). “I sincerely hope that SNCF will recover Connect, as fewer train tickets sold means more cars on the road.Let’s hope the message is heard … and that SNCF Connect is back on track.

(1) The G30 (for a 30-minute guarantee) applies to all SNCF mainline trains (TGV inOui and Intercités), for delays of more than 30 minutes, regardless of the reason for the delay. This does not apply to TERs You have 60 days after the trip to claim your compensation.

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