Update: New linguistic provisions on the border sections from SNCF Réseau and DB Netz

In application of Article 26 of the French Order of 06 August 2010 on the certification of train drivers (amended by French Order of 04 July 2016), which transposes the European Directive 2007/59/EC as amended, all train drivers operating on the French national rail network must have obtained level B1 in their French language skills. This principle is also mentioned in § 2.4.1 of the Network Statement for the 2018 timetable.

Until now, on the 8 border sections between France and Germany, in accordance with the corresponding border operational instructions, German has been the language routinely used for communications. An agreement between SNCF Réseau and DB Netz has set up a new language balance:  

-  on 4 border sections (Sarreguemines – Hanweiler Bad Rilchingen; Wissembourg – Winden; Lauterbourg – Wörth; Strasbourg – Kehl) German will continue to be spoken;

and on the 4 remaining border sections (Apach – Perl; Bouzonville – Hemmersdorf; Forbach – Saarbrücken Hbf; Bantzenheim – Neuenbourg), French will become the language used for communications between drivers and movements operatives.

The corresponding local operating instructions (CLE) shall be modified accordingly.

In order to guarantee the gradual implementation of this measure, SNCF Réseau has agreed with DB Netz to continue using German until 30 June 2018  (included) 30 December 2018 on all 8 border sections. After this date, exchanges between the IMs and RUs must take place in the language defined by the 2 IMs for each border section.

Both IM ask to take all necessary measures to ensure that the RU’s drivers obtain the required level of skill in the relevant language for each border section in the coming months. If however, as provided for in the Order and the Network Statement, RU’s would like to request a waiver as regards the level of language skills imposed, RU’s may contact Philippe Merette (philippe.merette@reseau.sncf.fr) and Pierre Chauvin (pierre.chauvin@reseau.sncf.fr) for any questions on this subject.

Reminder from SNCF Réseau: the request for a waiver must be made by the railway undertaking in possession of a safety certificate entitling them to operate in France. It must offer measures to compensate for the insufficient language skills of the driver(s) with regard to level B1 and demonstrate that said skills are sufficient to guarantee an equivalent level of safety.