Smart mobility, key issue for SNCF

While the SNCF has announced its plans to install free WiFi in all trains in late 2016, it is a purely smart mobility strategy that it wants to implement. The French National Society of Railways’ slogan “Give the idea of ​​the train in advance” has never meant so much. And this is especially so thanks to Smart Mobility …

smart mobility

The French have a tradition of mobility. Living in the suburbs, many of them have been working in city centers for generations. But today we have to move forward in a different way, in a better way. We have entered the era of smart mobility.


Smart mobility means a combination of two locations: one physical (station) and one virtual (smartphone). It aims at better estimating the travel flow to improve the service offered to the passengers.

One technical barrier to the concept of smart mobility is access to (very) high-speed internet. To answer this, SNCF has promised free WiFi in over 140 stations and trains by the end of 2016.

Many users ask for it at TGV but after investing more than twenty million euros in TGV Est-Europe’s WiFi, SNCF realized that such an operation is not profitable at all. Passengers are not prepared to pay extra for this service and the already cheap level of train tickets (compared to rail service in Spain and Germany) do not allow for the additional cost.

So SNCF is moving towards an NFC* solution that seems easy to implement and costs very little.

* (Near Field Communication) is a technique for exchanging data over a distance of a few centimeters. NFC allows for wireless communication between a mobile and a computer or even a camera and a PDA, allowing, for example, the downloading of files.

“Smartphones should become everyday life’s go-to for personal mobility”. This sentence from SNCF Communications Director Patrick Ropert is symptomatic of the company’s vision for the future.


SNCF has launched several initiatives to encourage the creativity of startups and promote innovation. A hackaton, a phenomenon during which multiple developers work collaboratively on an application, enabled the birth of Tranquillion Applications.

Tranquillion allows everyone to choose the most comfortable train and/or car in terms of traffic, depending on their constraints and their level of schedule flexibility. Passengers can consult train occupancy rates per car hour by hour, line by line, and help control traffic themselves by assessing the overall comfort of their journey.

to create your application tranquillion, SNCF is joined by Snipes, which is implementing the equipment in New York.

SNCF has been a partner of the accelerator since 2011 To encamp With a view to develop applications to exploit the data.

(From Camping and backed by SNCF, the encryption startup Theory Last week $10M was redeemed in cash.)

For example, it makes it possible to reduce the brightness of the station according to the data flow. Open data is trendy but according to Patrick Ropert it has real utility. With opendata, the group is building a strong transparency strategy. Knowing that the use of smartphones makes it possible to consolidate customer knowledge, open and big data are systems with many challenges.


Google Threats

SNCF’s main competitor is no railroad player, or even a mobility player. It’s the Internet’s almighty actor: Google. Could Google, which doesn’t have the same core business as SNCF, and is seen by many as an ally to build new business, could become a very dangerous competitor? Because it is the first contact with the customer in the value chain. He knows better than anyone what the customer wants and what he really needs.

It is after phases of seduction, which allow mobility players to strongly develop their sales, that Google establishes its strategy of dependability and thus, according to some, its margins using methods similar to rackets. enhances. Google passes on historical players in the journey to subcontractors.

Risk is arbitrage, as is the hotel industry. present and future share of SNCF, If he does not want to suffer the same fate, so to keep, or rather Rediscover the uninterested consumer contact.

All of this reminds us that a life of mobility is a capitalist jungle in which you have to be innovative, agile and efficient to maintain your leadership position.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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