Summary of the interview with Alexandra Debaisieux from RailCoop, Pour la Solidarité, oct 2020
Created on 30 November 2019, RailCoop is a Cooperative Society of Collective Interest (SCIC) that aims to give meaning to rail mobility. An ecological and citizen project, its service offer will complete the French rail network and will begin with the reactivation of the Lyon-Bordeaux line in 2022.
The opening up of the French rail market to competition has led to the emergence of a new player: RailCoop. It shakes up the codes of the railway world as much by the objectives it defends, the services it offers and by the values and principles it embodies.
When the social and solidarity economy invites itself into the railway field: a company for and by the stakeholders concerned!
RailCoop is indeed a SCIC – a Cooperative Society of Collective Interest – and is therefore part of the large family of social and solidarity economy structures. Its service offer is structured by the principles and values embodied by the SSE, from which it draws its specificity and strength. The services offered by RailCoop will not be guided by the purpose of economic profit.
Starting with the reactivation of the Lyon-Bordeaux line – abandoned by SNCF and public policies for lack of profitability – RailCoop seeks to combine economic viability with a collective and social purpose.
Organized as a cooperative, RailCoop associates in its governance all the stakeholders concerned by this issue – citizens, railway workers, local authorities, associations, companies – under the democratic principle of 1 actor = 1 vote. This makes it possible to ensure a service offer in line with the real needs of users and those concerned and guarantees the primacy of people and the corporate purpose over capital.
Through the close links with the needs of users and territories, the relaunch of the Bordeaux-Lyon line will generate positive externalities. It will allow, among other things, the opening up of rural areas, the decentralization of the hub-and-spoke railway model where everything is currently connected to the capital, the reactivation of a tourist and cultural offer along this route, etc.
Decarbonising our means of transport by rail
“Today, 55% of stations are not open to passenger traffic and 30% of stations are not open to any traffic. As for the lines, there are more than 8000km of lines not exploited. If we want to accelerate the ecological transition and the territorial network by train, it is essential to make every effort to fill these gaps and to complement existing services.” Alexandra Debaisieux, Deputy CEO of RailCoop.
Rail transport – for both freight and passengers – is an essential link in the success of the ecological transition. The energy required by the railways is less than one-twelfth of that required by road transport.
The development of rail transport indirectly makes it possible to preserve biodiversity and minimize the ecological impact of our travel. In addition, the train is very complementary to soft mobility (bicycles, etc.). It is obvious that the development of a rail offer, in addition to its positive social externalities, is necessary to succeed in our ecological transition objectives, and must be a priority of our public policies, both at national and European level.
In addition, the services offered by RailCoop are based on the principles of the circular economy. By reusing existing infrastructure such as already built but neglected railway stations and tracks, RailCoop offers concrete solutions to social and environmental problems.
Some key figures
- 61% of French people are willing to take the train rather than the plane for ecological reasons;
- 34% increase in road traffic expected by 2050;
- 90% of French people live less than 10km from a train station;
- 30% of French stations are not served by a rail service (freight or passenger);
The cooperative announces a two-day round trip between Lyon and Bordeaux in the summer of 2024, greatly helped by the entry into capital of the Metropolis and City of Lyon in January 2023. Freight trains have already been in circulation since 2022, including timber transport in Occitania (article “Train. La ligne Bordeaux-Lyon repoussée par Railcoop à l’été 2024 avec une version provisoire, plus modeste”, from 04/02/2023)