France Report

Innovative French cooperative launches railroad revival

Railcoop, a small French cooperative railways company this week inaugurated its first service, carrying freight for small businesses in the south-west of the country. The cooperative is the first of its kind in Europe, and it has big plans ahead, beginning with the opening next year of a passenger service across central France linking the cities of Bordeaux and Lyon and, along the way, dozens of small towns previously abandoned by France’s historic railways operator, the SNCF. As Nicolas Cheviron reports, for the cooperative's staff and stakeholders the launch this week was a two-year dream come true.

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Everyone in the crowd, from the train driver to the stakeholder, spoke of their pride at being there, of being the first to believe it possible, and the honour they felt at seeing it come to life. And watching their faces lit with joy, it was clear all were sincere, sharing the same jubilation at taking part in an extraordinary event.

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