SNCF to phase out paper tickets

train nice ter

Digitalisation is the mot du jour at the moment, and even France’s national rail service, the SNCF, is getting on board, with a plan to retire a vast number of their ubiquitous yellow ticketing machines.

The days of the hole punched or stamped train ticket are coming to end.

Last week, an SNCF spokesperson spoke to BFMTV about the group’s plans to, by the end of 2023, decommission at least 3,000 ticketing machines, citing the maintenance burdens and associated costs of the aging boxes. Couple that with a significant drop in the purchase of paper tickets and the days of the old-fashioned kiosks are now numbered.

“More than 99% of TGV and Intercité train tickets are now digital. On the TER (regional train services), only 4% of tickets still need to be stamped,” SNCF told the channel.

There will be a removal of 2,468 machines at TER stations and 725 for TGV and Intercité trains. In addition, the rail company will start the phase out of paper tickets altogether.

This does not mean paper tickets are not welcome, however. The new scheme only affects passengers with tickets that need to be stamped. Those who purchase digital tickets and wish to print them out and use them will be able to do so. For the remaining few customers who still want to buy the paper tickets and those who do not have access to e-tickets, these passengers will still be able to continue do as they always have, though they will now have to present their tickets to the conductor for validation when entering the train.

The company’s new policy is in line with France’s overall shift to more ecological ways of doing business. They are not alone in making this kind of move. The Paris Metro began their move to digital in October 2022, with the end of the sale of 10-ticket booklets.

SNCF will be informing the public of the changes by putting informational posters on the kiosks, starting this month, to try and eliminate as much confusion as possible.


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