German coach and train operator Flixtrain (subsidiary of FlixMobility) has applied to operate four daytime and one overnight service from January 2021. FlixMobility also operates Flixbus across Europe and would want their future rail services to create synergy with their coach operations. The development of rail services within France is possible as part of the liberalisation of domestic services under EU requirements. The proposed services are:
- Paris Nord - Brussels, seven services each way daily calling at Saint-Quentin
- Paris Austerlitz - Bordeaux, two services each way daily calling at Les Aubrais, Blois, St Pierre des Corps, Poitiers and Angouleme
- Paris Bercy - Lyon Perrache, five trains each way daily calling at Dijon, Chalon-sur-Saône and Mâcon
- Paris Bercy - Toulouse, two trains each way daily calling at Les Aubrais,
Vierzon, Châteauroux, Limoges, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Cahors and Montauban.
- Overnight Paris Bercy - Nice calling at Avignon Centre,
Arles, Miramas, Vitrolles, Marseille, Toulon, St Raphael-Valescure, Cannes and Antibes.
Flixtrain's proposal is to operate the service with BB 36000s or equivalent locomotives and rolling stock with capacity for 500 to 1,000 passengers depending on demand. Flixtrain have no resources of their own, and in Germany own one bus to qualify as a bus-operator. Their business model is to manage the marketing and promotion and develop good onboard IT facilities, with trains hired in from other companies. If the application is approved they will need a strategic partner(s) with credentials to operate over the French network and the staff and rolling stock to operate the services. The are currently in discussions with the private freight operators. The proposal to operate Toulouse services from Paris Bercy (instead of Austerlitz) is surprising given the limited capacity and congestion with RER Line D and at Juvisy, but is to provide easy access to the adjacent coach station.
Formed in 2013, in Germany Flixtrain now operates over four routes (Berlin - Stuttgart, Berlin - Cologne, Hamburg - Cologne and a seasonal Hamburg - Lorrach (Basle) overnight). They have managed to succeed where other open access operators have fallen by the wayside offering comfortable but cheap travel, basically a no frills service in re-furbished hauled stock, although all trains have wi-fi, seats with power points and some on-board catering. Ticketing in basically via the internet with a QR code that can be printed off or loaded onto a smart-phone, although tickets can also be bought at bus stations and some supermarkets. Pricing is based on capacity management with Hamburg - Cologne costing between €2.19 to €65 but generally in the €9.99 to €39.99 range. There are no extras or hidden costs but reserved seats are extra at €3.49 or €3.99 for a window. Timings have capacity to recover from unscheduled delays to maintain a good level of timekeeping