"We are off to a record summer, even beyond 2019 (...) we have already sold eight million tickets for July and August, that's 10% more than in 2019, so we're seeing a surge very strong", he declared on France 2, specifying that the SNCF was going to "put in place 500,000 additional places in the face of this success".

These places are already offered on the sales channels, SNCF told AFP, adding that this is an additional volume compared to the offer for the year 2019 and that the transport plans have been adapted.

"We are on the block, we are adding oars, we are making double compositions with two oars at the same time", added Mr. Farandou, welcoming the mobilization of railway workers to ensure the departure on vacation of the French people he called to take the train rather than their car out of "citizen concern".

The trains are, according to Mr. Farandou, complete on the days of the big departure but "there are places left" outside these periods.

Various strike movements are currently agitating the SNCF, particularly in Île-de-France with traffic disrupted by works which lead to last-minute changes to the schedules of drivers, denounced by the unions.

Wage demands have also been added to the protests.

Asked about these movements, Mr. Farandou recognized a "difficult period", especially in the Paris region for users and drivers, and indicated that discussions with the social partners were "engaged" with "all options" on the table.

"I try to practice a social dialogue of solution and construction and not too much a social dialogue of obstruction (...) which penalizes users and customers", he said, reporting a climate social "a little tense but not only at the SNCF" in particular because of the difficulties relating to purchasing power.

Regarding the increase in ticket prices for users who face inflation, the CEO said that it would be "contradictory to want to develop traffic and have high prices" and that, despite the increase of the price of electricity, the repercussion on the costs for the SNCF would not be “too significant” in 2022 thanks to purchases made in advance.

"For 2023, the question will arise", according to Mr. Farandou.

© 2022 AFP