TGV celebrates 25 years !

France celebrates high-speed train success story :
TGV celebrates its quarter century

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Its immediate success led the SNCF (French railways) and the public authorities to extend the network. First of all west in 1989, then north in 1993 and to the Mediterranean in 2001. In a few years, it changed people’s lives in France: Marseilles and Bordeaux are 3 hours from Paris, Lille 1 hour. 45,000 people use the TGV daily to commute from home to work.

The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse or High Speed Train) has opened up many erstwhile isolated parts of France by developing access to the regions and connections between them. Because the high-speed rail network of over 1,500 km (932 miles) directly links many French cities, passengers travelling between them no longer have to go through Paris. Indeed, the TGV is a tool for decentralization in France’s town and country planning policy.

Development of the TGV also helped to bring European capitals closer. London with Eurostar in 1994, Brussels with Thalys in 1996. Thanks to Eurostar, British people (who account for 60% of Eurostar passengers) can get to Paris in 2 hrs 20 mins and Brussels in less than 2 hours. In 2007, Amsterdam will be 3 1/4 hours away. The TGV is indeed a European means of transport. In 2005, 20 million passengers crossed Europe at high speed.

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The TGV is also an commercial success : the high-speed network is the main revenue earner for SNCF. France is exporting this technological wonder: to Korea in 2004; to Taiwan, which will launch its TGV in October 2006.

The quality of services provided to passengers is constantly improving: speed, punctuality (90% TGV arrive less than 10 mins late), comfort (sections reserved for families with children and babies, office facilities, buffets), flexibility (automatic machines allowing passengers to change reservation at the last moment), cheap fares, security, environmentally-friendly.

The SNCF ambitions continue today with the TGV Eastern Europe line, which is scheduled to open for service in June 2007. The trains will travel 12 miles per hour faster than the current commercial speed of the TGV.

The TGV’s 25th birthday is the opportunity to celebrate the successful French-designed high-speed train model, unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

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TGV Est européen (espace 2ème classe)
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TGV in figures:

Total number of passengers 1.2 billion
Number of passengers per day 250,000
Number of TGV stations 250
Total length of high-speed rail network 1,540 kms (963 miles)
Speed record (experimental/commercial) 515.3 kph / 320 kph (322 mph / 200 mph)
Examples of journey times Paris-Lyon (250 miles – similar to London-Newcastle) 1 hr 55 mins
Paris-Marseille (400 miles – similar to London-Glasgow) 3 hours

(Source : French Embassy in the United Kingdom)

Last modified on 16/01/2009

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