France must drastically reduce demand for transport during rush hour: Minister

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PARIS (Reuters) – The French state will help the national railway company SNCF to survive the coronavirus crisis, but France must considerably reduce transport demand and the second Paris airport, Orly, will not reopen anytime soon, said the Minister of the Environment.

FILE PHOTO: TGVs (high speed trains) are parked in a Charenton-le-Pont SNCF station near Paris during the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) in France, April 29, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

The SNCF CEO said on Saturday that the state-owned company had lost about 2 billion euros ($ 2.2 billion) in revenue due to the coronavirus lock-up, and that a government bailout may be necessary.

“We will have to give the SNCF the means to pursue its investment plan and … to see with the company what its financial situation is … The State will be at the side of the company”, declared the Minister for the Environment Elisabeth Terminal on LCI television.

The government has already unveiled plans to help Air France (AIRF.PA) and Renault (RENA.PA) with government guaranteed loans.

Borne also said that France should significantly reduce demand for transport during peak hours by encouraging employers to allow as many workers as possible to work from home and by introducing staggered departure times for those who return to work after the country closed on May 11. .

Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud told franceinfo radio that some five million people working at home today should continue as long as possible, at least until summer.

Borne said transport companies are responsible for ensuring that social distance is respected on trains and stations, but civil defense forces and local police will be on hand to help manage the traffic flow. She did not rule out closing certain metro stations to avoid overcrowding.

She added that the government is considering fines for passengers who break the rules.

Asked about a report in the financial daily Les Echos that Orly airport south of Paris would remain closed until the fall, Borne said it would depend on air traffic.

Borne also said it was too early to say when people would be allowed to book intra-European holidays again.

“We understand the impatience, but our priority is the health of the French,” she said.

After the isolation ends, the French will have to stay within 100 km (62 miles) of their home.

Report by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Nick Tattersall

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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