France to inaugurate fastest rail service to date

14th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

NANCY, France, March 14, 2007 (AFP) - France will inaugurate on Thursday its fastest rail service to date that will see trains shooting from Paris to the eastern city of Strasbourg at a record speed of 320 kilometres (200 miles) per hour.

NANCY, France, March 14, 2007 (AFP) - France will inaugurate on Thursday  its fastest rail service to date that will see trains shooting from Paris to the eastern city of Strasbourg at a record speed of 320 kilometres (200 miles) per hour.

The TGV-Est line that opens to passengers on June 10 will also cut travel time to points further east, making the trip from Paris to Luxembourg in about two hours, to Frankfurt in less than four and to Munich in six hours and fifteen minutes.

"Some 37 million Europeans can be reached," said TGV-Est director Alain Le Guellec. "A network of high-speed links is being put into place with the rest of Europe."

Work on the new line launched in 2002 and considered one of the biggest rail projects in Europe mobilised some 10,000 workers and required 78,000 tons of steel -- enough to build eight Eiffel towers.

There are doubts however over whether the rail service will be commercially viable.

The project cost of 4 billion euros is being shared among 22 financial partners at various levels of the French government as well as Luxembourg, the European Union and the French state-owned railway SNCF.

The price of train tickets is expected to increase by 20 to 30 percent, a prospect that is sure to draw some grumbling from passengers and complaints from local authorities.

The Paris-Strasbourg one-way trip will cost 63 euros (83 dollars), compared to 46.20 euros aboard the regular train. The TGV-Est will cut travel time to the eastern city down to two hours and 20 minutes from the current four hours.

The inauguration on Thursday will be a lavish affair with organisers preparing what is billed as the longest fireworks display in the world.

A spectacular light show is scheduled for the evening with the entire 300 kilometers (186 miles) of the new rail line aglow with torches for three minutes.

The event is to be broadcast on television, underscoring French pride in its state-of-the-art train technology.

The TGV-Est joins a league of such superfast trains as Japan's Shinkansen bullet train connecting Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka and Germany's ICE (Inter-City Express).

A Spanish version of the ICE, called Velaro, is to go into service this year connecting Madrid and Barcelona.

Japan is conducting test runs on the Fastech 360Z train that could travel at a speed of 360 kilometres per hour (224 miles per hour) while the third generation of ICE trains in Germany can reach speeds of over 300 kilometres per hour.

The TGV, which turned 25 last year, travels on a network of 1,500 kilometers of high-speed tracks at an average speed of 300 kilometres per hour. An additional 900 kilometers of track are to be built over the next ten years.

Last month, it was on the Paris-Strasbourg line that the TGV broke its own world record by hitting a peak speed of 553 kilometres per hour during a test run.

It is to make a new attempt at a high-velocity breakthrough in the coming weeks.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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