French rail co-operative Railcoop has revealed it is planning to split into two companies to address ongoing financial difficulties around the acquisition of three trains and has changed the plans around its first passenger services. 

While the co-operative is planning to invest €4m ($4.2m) in rolling stock, it has previously signed agreements to source three three-car X72500 DMUs and one spare two-car unit, but only one of the three-car trains and the spare are currently in its possession. It has also ended freight operations after the business did not bring in the expected revenue. 

Managing Director Nicolas Debaisieux made the restructuring revelation in an interview with Railway Gazette International, saying the business was currently “fragile” and would be split into a public-facing service delivery arm and an asset management operating company. 

The new asset management company will be backed by European institutional investors according to Debaisieux, though they have not yet been named, with Railcoop retaining a 15% stake in the company. 

News of the restructuring comes amid Railcoop’s preparations to launch its first passenger line, initially expected between Bordeaux and Lyon next year, after years of delays and issues with the idea which was at one point set to launch in June 2022. 

According to Debaisieux’s interview, Railcoop has now identified €15m in potential funding that would cover the completion of its rolling stock acquisition and refurbishment plans as well as allowing revenue risk for the passenger service to be passed on to the operating company. 

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By GlobalData

However, apparent ongoing issues regarding the feasibility of its planned Bordeaux to Lyon route have led the co-operative to instead move forward with a shorter route between Limoges and Lyon first, which will also only run at weekends and on national holidays to begin with, but still expected to launch in the middle of 2024. 

The news will likely only serve to bring more questions from those who are doubtful that the ambitious co-operative will be able to deliver on its passenger rail plans, despite the organisation already beginning to sell travel vouchers.

Railcoop has previously admitted it was in financial difficulty in June but said that it was convinced it could address the issues and appointed a new president, Christian Roy.