Development of the French TGV network (2023)

Previous TGV developments

The opening of France's TGV Sud-Est in 1981, connecting Paris and Lyon, was a milestone in transport and railway history, with similar significance to the opening of the Shinkansen in Japan in 1964. High-speed trains continued to enjoy great technical and commercial success in all countries that adopted this technology. In addition to being fast, the high-speed train has proven to be a safe, comfortable and efficient means of transport for the general public. In short, it reinvigorated rail transport and became a symbol of modern society.
The high-speed train is a proven system that has become a milestone in world transport and railway history. The TGV Süd-Est was Europe's first high-speed line and there is no doubting the technical excellence of the TGV, having set the world rail-on-rail speed record of 515.3 km/h in 1990 in the southwestern section of the Atlantic. Over 20 years, from 1981 to 2001, the gradual opening of TGV Atlantique (1990), TGV Nord Europe (1993) and TGV Méditerranée (2001) proved the reliability of TGV technologies in real operation.
This article addresses high-speed rail transport in France, focusing on the past development of the TGV network, the current construction of the TGV Est and future prospects based on the French high-speed rail master plan approved in December 2003.

Operation of the French TGV network

technical decisions
The French State Railways (SNCF) began transmitting the first high-speed rail definition concepts in France in 1970 with a proposal to build a new line between Paris and Lyon based on three principles: dedicated line for passenger services, compatibility with the existing rail network and high frequency operation with short travel times. These decisions proved to be the right ones and made it possible to reduce the cost of building new lines, reach high operational speeds of 240-270 km/h, optimize the capacity of the new TGV lines and reduce the costs of operating and maintaining the new lines and rolling stock and free load capacity on existing conventional lines. All these factors contributed to the growth in traffic and higher profitability of high-speed rail.
A particularly unique selling point of the French TGV is its relatively low construction costs. The first TGV Sud-Est cost only US$ 4 million per kilometer, the lowest in the world (Table 1). More recent projects cost around US$10 million per kilometre, and the most recent TGV Méditerranée, with seven long viaducts (17,155 km) and one long tunnel (12,768 km), still costs just US$15 million per km.

(Video) High-Speed Revolution in Europe: French TGV Network

French TGV lines
The French TGV network currently covers a total of 1,520 operational kilometers (Figure 1) as follows:

TGV Sud-Est (417 km): opened in 1981 (St-Florentin-Lyon Sathonay); 142 km long 1983 (Combs la Ville (Paris)–St-Florentin)
TGV Atlantic (281 km): inaugurated in 1989 (Bagneux (Paris)–Connerre Junction (Le Mans)); 101 km of extension in 1990 (Courtalain Junction–Monts Junction (Tours))
TGV Nord Europe (333 km): inaugurated in 1993 for Paris-Lille and Lille-Calais
TGV Paris connections (104 km): opened in 1994; 17 km extension link in 1996 connecting TVG Northern Europe, Southeast and Atlantic
TGV Rhône-Alpes (121 km): opened in 1992 (Montanay Junction - Satolas Airport); Extension of 84 km in 1994 (Satolas–St Marcel les Valence Airport)
Mediterranean TGV (251 km): Abertura 2001 (Valence–Marseille/Nîmes)

Currently, the uninterrupted 1,070 km TGV route, which runs from the English Channel near Calais in the far north of France to Marseille in the far south of France on the Mediterranean Sea, can be covered by a TGV train in little more than 3 hours at 300 km/h. It is also worth noting that all French TGV lines are interconnected.

TGV through operation on the conventional network
As the TGV system was designed from the ground up to be compatible with the existing conventional rail network, TGV trains can operate on a much wider network than dedicated high-speed lines (Figure 2). TGV Paris connections also allow the TGV to serve French regions without passing through Paris.
In addition, TGV trains can also directly serve the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

travel times
As shown in Figure 3, the TGV network has drastically changed the geography of France in terms of travel times from Paris.

Parallel to the advances in high-speed lines, the SNCF undertook extensive project development of TGV train sets. The current fleet of 388 multiple units includes five TGV generations, includingEurostareThalys, distributed according to Table 2.

(Video) Evolution of French TGV Trains: Explained

Table 1:Costs of building high-speed lines per km
Illustration 1:TGV high-speed routes
Figure 2:TGV-Servicenetz
Figure 3:TGV Times in Paris
Mesa 2:TGV-Zugsets

TGV success story

The TGV is not only a technical success, but also a commercial success.
Since the TGV was first put into operation in 1981, the volume of TGV traffic has steadily increased as several TGV lines were put into service over the 20 years from 1981 to 2001 (Figures 4 and 5). Around 250,000 passengers use one of the 600 TGV trains every day; TGV annual traffic is 90 million passengers.
At the end of 2003, TGVs collectively transported more than 1 billion passengers, demonstrating their success as a fast, safe, frequent, comfortable and efficient means of transport for all.
In terms of passenger kilometers and commercial revenue, TGV traffic accounts for around 75% of all SNCF main line traffic. Operation of TGV trains in France and neighboring countries (includingEurostareThalysServices) is an important profit center for SNCF.
The experience shows an immediate public reaction after the opening of a new TGV. The sources of the traffic increase are passengers switching from air to road transport due to the added value of the TGV in terms of shorter journey times, frequent connections, high comfort and competitive fares.
The impact of high-speed trains on air travel is unquestionable; The competing flight routes of the TGVs recorded similar drops in volume, especially on trips lasting less than 3 hours. The impact on road transport is also clear – traffic figures show that motorways are experiencing a decline in traffic growth as they compete with TGVs. As an added benefit, the decrease in air and road travel reduces the negative impact of pollution, etc. on the environment due to the ecological nature of the TGV.

Figure 4:Annual growth in TGV traffic
Figure 5:TGV cumulative passenger numbers

Synergy between TGV and planes

France has greatly developed the synergy between TGV and air services. For example, two airports - Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) near Paris and Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS) - have TGV stations at the airport itself. travel with a single ticket to the following destinations: Aix-en-Provence TGV, Angers, Avignon TGV, Bordeaux Saint-Jean, Le Mans, Lille-Europe, Lyon Part-Dieu, Marseille Saint-Charles, Montpellier, Nantes, Nimes, Poitiers, Rennes, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps Tours, Valence TGV. TGV Air is promoted not only by the SNCF, but also by travel agencies and airlines around the world. In 2004, Air France, Air Austral, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM, Lufthansa and United Airlines were all partners of TGV Air, with other airlines planning to join.

(Video) History of the TGV network, every month

TGV-Bahnhof am Flughafen Roissy Charles de Gaulle
The TGV station at Terminal 2 of the CDG opened in 1994 to provide a quick and convenient connection between trains and planes. The station has four floors and offers various services such as information points, ticket offices, bar, restaurant, currency exchange, car rental, day care, showers, toilets, etc.
CDG TGV services operate on the Nord Europe, Sud-Est, Méditerranée and Atlantique TGV lines, as well as on theThalysNetwork. In 2002, the CDG TGV station handled around 2.5 million passengers and this volume is expected to increase as airport traffic increases.

TGV station at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport
The TGV station in the heart of LYS was opened in 1994. It was designed by the famous Spanish architect M. Santiago Calatrava. The architecture is bold, combining an aesthetic exterior with outstanding functionality on the inside.
Since the construction of the third airport for the Paris region was cancelled, LYS has fulfilled its ambition to become the second busiest airport in France. Its trump card is its connection to Europe's expanding high-speed network. This advantage will make LYS a unique multimodal transport base for Europe. Approximately 9 million people currently live within 90 minutes of LYS; By 2015, 21 million people (excluding Paris) will live within 2 hours.
In 2002, the LYS TGV station carried 300,000 passengers, a 19% increase over the previous year. This traffic will continue to grow in the future with additional TGV trains to the south and south east of France and the commercialization of services such as TGV Air, which combines air flights with TGV travel – a perfect combination of train and plane.

Photo:View of the TGV station and the CDG terminals
Photo:TGV station in CDG
Photo:View of the TGV station and the LYS terminals
Photo:TGV station at LYS

TGV East under construction

After the TGV Méditerranée, the next TGV project (2007) will be the TGV East from Paris to Strasbourg. The overall project includes 406 km of new lines to Vendenheim near Strasbourg. The first phase, already budgeted, will be 300 km long, linking Vaires-sur-Marne near Paris with Baudrecourt on the Moselle and the existing rail network, serving many destinations directly without any connections.
The project also includes improvements to lines and terminal facilities, mainly between Gare de l'Est station in Paris and Vaires-sur-Marne and on the Strasbourg–Kehl main line. Furthermore, the routes through the Vosges valleys will be electrified and prepared for the new high-speed trains. Thanks to the European HSR East France, Paris will be connected to the main cities in the east of France and the eastern regions will be connected to the high-speed network serving the north, west and south-west of France, creating a new European network.

(Video) French TGV Train - Complete History (ENGLISH FULL)

driving speed and times
The first 300 km, linking Vaires-sur-Marne to Baudrecourt on the Moselle, will support speeds of up to 350 km/h - commercial operations will start at 320 km/h. Some typical travel times are shown in Figure 6.

Financing TGV East
This project was born after many studies to define a specific financing package and a roadmap that respected the natural environment and surroundings. The first infrastructure project of its kind to be recognized as a non-profit by the Ministry of the Environment, the European HSR line in eastern France is also the first railway to be largely funded by French regions and the European Union (EU). The total cost is around 4 billion euros (1 euro = 1.20 US dollars), broken down as follows: 61% public funding (French government, 17 local authorities, EU and Luxembourg); 17% RFF and 22% SNCF (of which €800 million for TGV vehicles).

Commercial network and traffic forecast
With a new 300km high-speed line from Vaires to Baudrecourt and connections to conventional lines and the rest of the TGV network, TGV Est will form a commercial network covering 26 French and 11 European cities.
For high-speed international commercial traffic, RHEALYS was founded as a joint venture between CFL (Luxembourg), SNCF (France), DB AG (Germany) and SBB (Switzerland).
The project will increase traffic by 66%, from 6.9 million passengers to 11.5 million.

Figure 6:TGV East travel times

Future TGV developments

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On December 18, 2003, the Interministerial Commission for Land Planning and Development (CIADT) met. One of the themes was an ambitious long-term transport plan (2025) that would allow French regions to better participate in Europe and the world economy. The plan envisages around 50 major projects, including eight TGVs (Fig. 7): Rhine-Rhône (Dijon-Mulhouse); Sud Europe Atlantique (Tours-Bordeaux-Spain); Brittany - Pays de la Loire; Est (second phase with connection to the ICE network); Catalonia-Italy (Perpignan-Figueras, detour Nîmes and Montpellier, TGV to Nice); Lyon–Turin; Bordeaux - Toulouse; and connecting line south of Paris.
By 2010, the French high-speed network will cover a total of 2,117 km. In the long term, the network will cover around 3500 km. TGV lines also extend to neighboring countries; The EU has recently adopted Technical Interoperability Specifications (TSI) for the high-speed network, which will be mandatory for new EU high-speed lines. Its implementation will allow the EU to build a high-speed network with a total length of over 12,000 km, integrate European countries and revitalize rail passenger transport.

Figure 7:Long-term planned TGV network


What is the history of the TGV? ›

The TGV was the world's third commercial and standard gauge high-speed train service, after Japan's Shinkansen, which connected Tokyo and Osaka from 1 October 1964, and Britain's InterCity 125 on main lines such as the East Coast Main Line, which entered service in 1976.

How much did the TGV cost to build? ›

The first TGV Sud-Est cost just $4 million per km, the lowest figure worldwide (Table 1).

When was the TGV built in France? ›

On 27 September 1981, the first TGV line from Paris to Lyon opened to the public. The opening of the 425 kilometer route marked the debut of France's massive expansion of high speed rail.

What is TGV technology? ›

Indeed, the TGV is a system which comprises train, track, and signalling technologies that when combined make high speeds (typically 300 km/h, or 186 mph) possible. The TGV system is owned and operated by SNCF, the French national railways, and is an integral part of French rail travel.

Why is the TGV important? ›

Built for speed

“This made it possible to do a return trip between French cities on the same day (Paris-Marseille in three hours, Paris-Bordeaux in two hours, Paris-Lille in one hour),” said François Vielliard, of the French railways (SNCF). “The TGV shrunk France as well as a few other European countries.”

What is the difference between TGV and SNCF? ›

Traditional SNCF express trains connecting cities across regions in France: longer distance routes than TER regional trains, but slower than TGV high-speed trains.

Is there a TGV in USA? ›

France began service of the high-speed TGV train in 1981 and the rest of Europe quickly followed. But the U.S. has no true high-speed trains, aside from sections of Amtrak's Acela line in the Northeast Corridor. The Acela can reach 150 mph for only 34 miles of its 457-mile span.

Who owns TGV in France? ›

SNCF operates almost all of France's railway traffic, including the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, meaning "high-speed train"). In the 1970s, the SNCF began the TGV high-speed train program with the intention of creating the world's fastest railway network.

Is the TGV only in France? ›

The international TGV services connect France with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Spain. There's also a service between France and Switzerland, operated by TGV Lyria.

What are some facts about the TGV in France? ›

The trains normally travel at speeds between 270 km/h and 320 km/h. They are the fastest normal trains in the world, their average travel speed is at 279,4 km/h. In 2007, a special TGV set the speed record for rail vehicles, reaching 574,8 km/h. Paris to Lyon, later to Valence, Avignon and Marseille.

What does TGV mean in French? ›

…“Train à grande vitesse” (TGV), or “high-speed train,” service on the Paris to Lyon line.

Who created the TGV? ›

The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, French for 'high-speed train') is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator. It was developed during the 1970s by GEC-Alsthom (now Alstom) and SNCF.

What is the TGV of the future? ›

Alstom dubbed the new train "the TGV of the future." TGV stands for Train à Grand Vitesse, meaning high-speed train. This swanky new design will premiere on the Paris rail network in 2024 and across the country over the following 10 years.

What is the newest TGV? ›

Production of the first bodyshells commenced in mid-2020; two years later, dynamic testing was underway. The TGV M is expected to enter service with the French train operator SNCF in TGV service in 2024; deliveries will continue into the 2030s.

What is the fastest TGV in the world? ›

Fastest Train in the World – 357.2 MPH

The current world speed record for a commercial train on steel wheels is held by the French TGV at 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph), achieved on 3 April 2007 on the new LGV Est. The trainset, the track and the cantenary were modified to test new designs.

Does the TGV make a profit? ›

TGV is highly profitable in France. All the major intercity routes in the UK run at a profit and these operate at 125-140mph, which is high speed by US standards. > TGV is highly profitable in France.

What is the purpose of TGV deletes? ›

The TGV delete kit eliminates the factory's restrictive butterfly valves that are located in the intake runners. By eliminating the factory TGV, intake air flow becomes unrestricted and is increased to each cylinder.

When was the first TGV used? ›

From its first service in September 1981, the French train à grande vitesse (TGV) has set a pace in European high-speed (initially above 200km/h) rail operations.

Is TGV same as RER? ›

Although TGV is faster and easier, RER is cheaper way to travel to DLP. Has anyone used the RER and whats the journey like? The journey is fine, although slower. You take RER Line B into Paris and get off at Chatelet Les Halles, where there is cross-platform interchange with RER Line A to Marne-la-Vallée.

Is TGV The fastest train in France? ›

TGVs - Trains à Grande Vitesse - are the pride of SNCF (French railways), running at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on a network linking towns and cities across much of France. In fact, trains reach 320 km/h (199 mph) on the newer TGV-Est & TGV-Rhin-Rhone routes.

Is SNCF a monopoly? ›

This monopoly is set by the orientation law on domestic transportation (Loi d'Orientation des Transports Interieurs) of 1982 which gave Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF) the exclusive right to operate the domestic railway network.

Why America has no high speed rail? ›

The United States has no such corridors. High‐​speed rail is an obsolete technology because it requires expensive and dedicated infrastructure that will serve no purpose other than moving passengers who could more economically travel by highway or air.

Why doesn t the US use bullet trains? ›

Population Density. The US simply does not have the density to have the need for high speed rail. There are a few regions where this is actually a viable thing, and one region in the US already has a high speed rail line, called the Acela Express. It runs from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, DC.

Is TGV a private company? ›

Tgv Industries Private Limited's Annual General Meeting (AGM) was last held on 30 October 2021 and as per records from Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), its balance sheet was last filed on 31 March 2021.

Does the TGV have a bathroom? ›

Bathrooms on the TGV

Bathrooms are readily located between coaches, and they might be the tiniest bathrooms you've ever seen. With eclectic photos lining the walls, the triangular space wedged into a corridor is not designed for being able to do anything but use the toilet and wash your hands.

What is the difference between OUIGO and TGV? ›

Plus OUIGO trains carry more passengers per journey - up to 1,260 vs 1,000 on TGV INOUI trains. To cater for more passengers, OUIGO trains don't have a buffet bar, so we recommend you buy drinks and snacks before boarding. In brief, TGV INOUI trains are premium service, while OUIGO trains are low-cost TGVs.

Can you sleep on the TGV? ›

Intercités de Nuit also have 2nd class reclining seats, and you'll also find overnight TGV trains on some routes with non-reclining seats. However, a couchette allows you to sleep properly lying down in a safely-locked compartment, so is the recommended option and definitely worth the extra cost.

Does Germany have TGV? ›

In the mood for a German getaway? We've got what you're looking for, with high-speed TGV INOUI and ICE trains serving 10 German cities every day.

What cities does TGV go to? ›

TGV Atlantique connects Paris with the Britanny and the west of France. This line serves Le Mans, Tours, Nantes, Rennes, Qimper and Brest. The TGV Nord-Europe line goes north from Paris to Lille and to the English-Channel coast at Dunkerque, Calais and Boulogne.

Is The TGV the fastest train in the world? ›

Fastest Train in the World – 357.2 MPH

The current world speed record for a commercial train on steel wheels is held by the French TGV at 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph), achieved on 3 April 2007 on the new LGV Est.

Who operates TGV in France? ›

SNCF. SNCF is the main high-speed train operator in France, with its main brand TGV inOui, as well as its low-cost brand Ouigo Grande Vitesse. It uses a variety of TGV type trains, from the original TGV Sud-Est, introduced in 1981, to the TGV 2N2 "Euroduplex", in 2011.

Is TGV profitable? ›

TGV is highly profitable in France. All the major intercity routes in the UK run at a profit and these operate at 125-140mph, which is high speed by US standards. > TGV is highly profitable in France.

Why doesn t the us have bullet trains? ›

Population Density. The US simply does not have the density to have the need for high speed rail. There are a few regions where this is actually a viable thing, and one region in the US already has a high speed rail line, called the Acela Express. It runs from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, DC.

Which is the No 1 fastest train in the world? ›

This dreamlike experience is will soon be a reality thanks to Japan's famous Maglev bullet trains, the fastest train in the world. Japan is already well known for its extensive Shinkansen train system, which has been in operation since 1964.

Which European country has the best train system? ›

1. Switzerland. Tucked inside the small but incredibly beautiful country of Switzerland is one of the most efficient and scenic rail networks in the world.

Who has the largest high-speed rail network? ›

As of 2021, China had by far the longest highspeed railway network in the world with almost 40,500 kilometers of highspeed rail lines; the country was followed by Spain and Japan, both with more than 3,000 kilometers of highspeed rail each.

How fast will California high-speed rail be? ›

Maximum train speeds will be about 220 miles per hour (350 km/h) in the dedicated HSR segments, and about 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) in the blended segments.


1. The History of the TGV
(Ruairidh MacVeigh)
2. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's France's TGV high-speed train! • FRANCE 24 English
(FRANCE 24 English)
3. French TGV Evolution
4. How France Bought 2,000 Trains That Were Too Wide
(Half as Interesting)
5. French TGV System Growth
(Loren Petrich)
6. Why This Train Is The Envy Of The World: The Shinkansen Story


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