RER project in Strasbourg: the risk of a false start

What if REME were the victim of a false start? REME is the future express metro network, the Strasbourg RER
. From 11 December, the Alsatian capital is expected to become the second city in France to have a RER
, after Paris. The promise is tempting: a train at least every half hour, scheduled on all lines, from 5:00 to 22:00. And also everything 15 minutes during rush hour in the 13 stations located in and around the Eurometropolis. : + 137% trains to Vendenheim, + 209% to Graffenstaden, + 60% to Haguenau.

The distribution will take place in stages. More than 800 additional trains per week from 11 December. More than 1,060 a week in the summer of 2023. With in particular a strong acceleration in the number of TER trains over the weekend (doubling of the offer on Sundays).

The project is supported by the Strasbourg Eurometropolis and the Grand Est region, which fund it for 14.5 million euros. It is obviously desirable. Except that behind the beautiful promises there is the great risk of a false start.

Firstly, because the SNCF initially ran into problems find drivers. Eighteen have been hired, sixteen will come from other regions, six retirees will return.

“If we take the staff problem, the bill is not there” – Sud Rail

But that’s only about a third of what you need. Because another 70 drivers have yet to be recruited and trained next year. “If we take the staff problem, the bill is not there. We have an increase of 130 trains a day with an almost constant workforce. All this put an end in the end, we can say that we will not make it“Explains Alexandre Welsch, regional secretary of Alsace of the Sud Rail union.

Same situation on hardware. “The pieces do not arrive, Covid did not help. We can’t get the oars back in time and we can’t fix them “ explains the union representative. In fact, there would be between 20 and 25 agents at least at the technical center. And some of those who work there will have to switch to 3 × 8 on weekends.

To keep its commitments, SNCF wants to increase the speed of the drivers, their productivity. And also ask more presence to the employees of the technical center, in exchange for some extra money.

Strasbourg railway station – illustration
© Radio France

Rachele Natale

In short, a load more work.The topic is no longer even money “ annoys Régis Hoffmann, general secretary of the CFDT railway workers in the Grand Est. The union official evokes the already exhausted railway workers.

We challenged the management to inform them of the impossibility, both material and human, of realizing this great project which is REME. There is a lack of manpower for maintenance, driving and control. All exchanges are lacking in resources and will not be enough to start the project“Says the representative of the railway worker CFDT, an over-the-counter trade union at the technicentre.

A hard blow in sight

So the unions promise, if nothing changes, a show of strength in December. “A hard strike“Sud Rail swears. Even the usually moderate CFDT evokes a strong mobilization”.As things stand, we will call for a strike in December, a hard strike that will undoubtedly lead to many train cuts“Says Régis Hoffmann.

The SNCF then puts you in a disaster sizes on the table : 1,000 euros for 4 months for those who would engage in the project, this is the latest proposal launched during a meeting last week.

“It will be the first REME outside Paris. All other cities will look at us” – Alain Jund, vice president of Eurometropolis

Elected officials want to save REME and put the pressure on the SNCF. “Honestly, at a time when we are financing an increase in supply and when we are putting the means on the table, we all have a collective duty to succeed in this. Otherwise it will mean that the SNCF company is unable to evolve and which has remained fixed on the functioning of the past, I do not think it is so, but we will have the demonstration, I hope, on December 11th“Says David Valence, chair of the transport commission for the Grand East region.

Same method as Coué, e same pressure
on the SNCF from Eurometropolis. “This is an opportunity, beyond what it will do for users, to give a signal. This will be the first REME outside Paris. All other cities will watch us. The SNCF cannot not be there. The challenge is over. The SNCF is mobilized a priori. I think success will be in the end, even if you have to force fate a little“Says Alain Jund, Eurometropolis vice president in charge of mobility.

Users fear that other TER lines will be sacrificed

And even though the Strasbourg RER got off to a good start on 11 December, user associations fear that this happens to the detriment of the other lines Lower Rhine TER.

For us it is an excellent project, but which is done in a context that is not good. For a year now, users have been victims of the reduction in supply, the cancellation of trains. And it is feared that the reasons for these cancellations are the lack of staff and the lack of equipment, that the same causes produce the same effects. That the additional 800 trains scheduled every week, the SNCF cannot guarantee them “ considers the regional president of FNAUT, the national federation of transport user associations.

François Giordani adds: “We fear the disaster of December 12, both for REME users and for others. We want to show that REME works well and we will sacrifice other services elsewhere in Alsace or even in Lorraine “.

The management of the SNCF, urged, did not want to answer our questions and sent us back to the Grand Est region and the Eurometropolis of Strasbourg. Note that REME, the Strasbourg RER it will not affect the lines in Lauterbourg and Offenburg.

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