I’m currently in France, so getting a slightly different view of the world through my local paper (Ouest France – France’s largest circulation newspaper, published by the Humanist Philosophical Society!) and the France 24 (France’s equivalent of the BBC World Service TV with the wonderful Mark Owen)
The big railway story in the UK is of course rising fares exceeding wage rises for the umpteenth year running, together with the chaos of privatisation, and over half of trains now either late or cancelled. For added spice there’s the hybrid diesel/electric trains from London to Swansea and Bristol because we were too mean to electrify all the line. These have the worst of both worlds as the electric train has to drag along tonnes of diesel engine, thus reducing speed, economy and acceleration. That’s if they didn’t break down all the time.
The big story in France, though, is the launch of the new TGV line from Paris Montparnasse to Brittany, which will shorten journey times to under 3 hours to Brest, 2 hours to Nantes, and under 1.5 hours to Rennes. There are 41 trains each day, compared to 18/day to Cardiff and Swansea. https://uk.voyages-sncf.com/en/tgv/western-france#/
From Paris to Nantes, prices start at £32 each way for a 239 miles journey with a guaranteed seat. Compare that to Cardiff to London with a (pre-booked only) fare of £45.80 off peak single for 150 miles (also in 2 hours) with a strong possibility of standing all the way. The on-peak walk on fare is £117.50 each way!
Oh, did I forget to mention, French Railways, SNCF, are state owned and always have been.