To strengthen their strategic partnership in the Thalys business, the boards of French National Railways (SNCF) and Belgian National Railways (SNCB) approved a restructuring of the international high speed operator on 27 June and 8 July 2013 respectively to create a single corporate entity.
This fully-fledged company will have strong and stable shareholding. Entrusting the full set of operations to a single entity will foster effective decision-making and improve oversight of the company’s activities.
The aim of this initiative is to guarantee the future development of Thalys and deliver agility in a competitive environment.
The agreement between SNCF and SNCB entails the creation of this stand-alone company from 2015, subject to European Commission approval pursuant to merger control laws.
“This is a great opportunity to strengthen the historic partnership between our two companies and further develop high speed rail in northern Europe,” said SNCF President Guillaume Pepy and SNCB Chief Executive Marc Descheemaecker in a joint statement. “It will give Thalys the means to offer an increasingly attractive and efficient service to its customers and expand its business.”
The Thalys partnership was set up in 1995 by SNCF, SNCB, Netherlands Railways (NS) and German Rail (DB) to provide high speed services between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne, and has been hugely successful.
The gradual opening of high speed lines connecting the four countries has enabled Thalys to operate services between Paris and Brussels in 1 hour 20 minutes, Amsterdam in 3 hours 18 minutes and Cologne in 3 hours 14 minutes. With its fleet of 26 trains, Thalys also serves the airports of Brussels and Schiphol, as well as cities such as Rotterdam, Düsseldorf, Duisbourg, Essen, Antwerp, Ostend, Bruges, Ghent, Mons, Namur, Charleroi, Liège and Aachen. Thalys achieved an 8.4% increase in turnover last year to €470m, while passenger journeys rose by 3.1% to 6.6 million.
(Source : SNCF)