Railcoop suspends freight activities to focus on developing passenger services

The French co-op plans to launch its first passenger service next year and is running fundraisers to get its rolling stock in place

Railcoop’s board of directors has voted to suspend its freight activities in order to concentrate its resources on the launch of the Bordeaux-Lyon line.

France’s first rail co-operative, Railcoop plans to launch a passenger service between Bordeaux and Lyon in the summer of 2024.

After the voted on April 19, the co-op issued a statement which said: “Despite the start of a new service and good development prospects in the south-west [of France], forecasts do not currently allow us to envisage reaching the economic profitability of the freight activity in 2023.

“We are reorganising our activities to focus exclusively on developing the travellers business. The development of a local rail freight service remains a major ambition for Railcoop. This development represents an essential link to support the ecological transition in the territories.”

Members will be asked for feedback on the freight services provided by the co-op, it added, in order to assess their experience and “lay the foundations for the resumption of this medium-term activity”.

Set up in 2019, Railcoop is a co-operative society of collective interest (SCIC) with over 14,000 member owners. The co-op had planned its first passenger service for 2022 but but the process was delayed by Covid-19.

In March, members adopted a resolution to start a restricted passenger service from 2024 with a majority of 86.39%. With funding from banks and institutional investors pending, the co-op chose to finance this investment with its own funds from members.

Railcoop plans to offer a two-day return trip between Bordeaux and Lyon and will this year carry out renovation work on trains.

To achieve its first objective, the co-op needs to raise €4.1m in 2023 in order to cover the necessary investments, particularly the purchase of an additional X72500 three-coach train. It has launched two fundraisers, a share offer via its site, and an equity securities offer via the Lita.co platform.