SNCF, RATP: Transport on the front line facing the coronavirus

It is a “first in Europe”, in the words of the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. The requisition of a medicalized TGV, double duplex train, will relieve the saturated hospitals of the Grand Est this Thursday, March 26. Leaving Strasbourg this morning, he will travel to Mulhouse and then to Angers in order to ttransfer Alsatian patients suffering from Covid-19 and hospitalized in intensive care to hospitals in the Pays de la Loire region. The operation coordinated by the Samu de Paris consists of transporting 20 patients at the rate of four patients by car with a medical team. About 50 carers and logisticians on board. This operation could be repeated if necessary.

While the supply of passenger transport is shrinking almost everywhere in France – only 7% of TGVs will now run from March 27 with the shutdown of Ouigo trains – SNCF is focusing particularly on assistance to health workers. Since March 23, medical and paramedical staff can travel for free on its network (TGV and Intercités).If they have the proof of their direction, they can travel throughout France to strengthen a service “, said the director of SNCF Voyages, Alain Krakovitch, saying” normal that we are also, at SNCF, in a solidarity action towards carers “.

SNCF is responding in particular to the Paris Hospitals' call for medical and paramedical professionals available to strengthen its teams in the coming weeks. This approach is also being developed on the TER network in collaboration with the regions, since March 20, in the Grand Est, and Hauts-de-France, then in Brittany, Normandy and Auvergne Rhône-Alpes.

20 RATP bus shuttles connecting Paris hospitals

Urban transport companies are also on the bridge. Also an unprecedented operation, RATP has implemented since March 23 with Île-de-France Mobilités and Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris a transport system dedicated to hospital staff. Twenty free bus shuttles connect the major transport hubs to hospital structures. Again, “just show your business card, we explain to the management of the management of the Paris metro, where we note a doubling of the number of travelers affected every day”, since the implementation of the service .

The shuttle from the Gare de Lyon, for example, serves the Rothschild, Armand-Trousseau, Saint-Antoine hospitals before returning to Gare de Lyon. Those leaving from Austerlitz pass through the Collegiate Church, Cochin, Broca and the CHU de la Pitié Salpêtrière.All the timetables for the lines are available on the RATP website. In addition to this system in Paris and the inner suburbs, “a hundred regular bus lines as well as 6 demand transport lines serve health establishments in the outer suburbs,” would like to remind Île-de-France Mobilités.

Adaptation of urban transport networks in regions

In regions, initiatives are also flourishing. The leaders of urban public transport, Keolis (subsidiary of the SNCF) and Transdev (Caisse des Dépôts), which also suffer from a drastic reduction in their bus or tram transport offer, have also changed in certain cities – in Le Havre and Rouen for Transdev- timetables or services to give priority to health personnel and hospitals.

Since the public transport strike in late 2019 and early 2020, operators have learned to build transportation plans to serve schools. Today, they are adapting to the coronavirus and the needs of hospitals. “Even if it takes a shortly, says one of them, because you don't create a new transportation network overnight. “

Free on-demand transport

In Brest, RATP Dev, a RATP subsidiary, offers transport on demand for hospital staff between 10 p.m. and midnight. The Grand Est, Hauts-de-France and Brittany have already announced that their networks (TER and intercity buses) will be free for carers. Normandy goes further and offers free rail and road transport for which it is responsible for carers, health personnel more widely, firefighters, police, but also anyone providing proof of their employer who works during the crisis, especially supermarket cashiers.

Some even offer transport on demand: the agglomeration of Dieppe (Seine-Maritime) in conjunction with Transdev, sets up a free transport service by reservation dedicated exclusively to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, midwives, nursing aides , health transporters and biologists, in order to allow them to reach all of the territory's health structures.

Taxis to the rescue

In private transport, the G7 group of the Rousselet family heard the message from Emmanuel Macron indicating that the taxis could be requisitioned for health reasons, in reference to the Marne taxis during the war of 1914-1918. In the Paris region, a third of the 9,000 affiliated taxis are currently operational to help transport hospital staff, including the 60,000 employees of the APHP, the group said. Its car rental subsidiary, ADA, has also signed a partnership agreement to provide its utility vehicles free of charge to hospital teams in Paris and to the AGEP (Association of Geriatrics of Eastern Paris) in order to supply medical equipment to Ile-de-France hospitals and pharmacies.


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