France opens two new high-speed lines in a day

By Keith Fender

FRENCH Railways (SNCF) added another 484 route kilometres to its high-speed rail network from July 1, expanding the length of the French high-speed rail network by a fifth in a single day. It now totals 2,916km.

The inaugural TGV over the new SEA high-speed line after arrival at Bordeaux St Jean. KEITH FENDER.

Two new 320kph lines opened connecting Paris with Bordeaux in the south west and Rennes in Brittany, both lines extend the existing Paris to Tours/Le Mans LGV Atlantique high-speed line which opened in 1990.

The new lines have been built using a public-private financing arrangement – the first time this has been used in France for new railway lines – with two different private concession companies.

The 302km Tours to Bordeaux project cost €9bn (£8bn) while the 182km Le Mans to Rennes line cost €3.3bn (£2.95bn).

The inaugural train from Paris to Bordeaux on July 1 was formed of brand new TGV Océane set No. 863 in the new TGV ‘inOui’ livery with invited guests making the journey in two hours and one minute. The first train on the Paris to Rennes route came later the same day and carried French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Regular passenger services on both lines started on July 2, journeys from Bordeaux to Paris have been reduced to two hours four minutes from three hours 15 minutes. Rennes to Paris now takes just 95 minutes – a reduction of 39 minutes over the previous schedule.

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