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France could cut number of stations served by high-speed TGV trains

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France could cut number of stations served by high-speed TGV trains
Photo: AFP
15:35 CEST+02:00
French rail chiefs might have to drastically cut the number of rail stations around the country served by the high-speed TGV trains in a bid to cut costs and reduce the debt burden.

Reports in France on Tuesday said the government was considering the drastic measure which would spell bad news for anyone living outside the country’s biggest cities.

The ministry of transport has tasked Jean-Cyril Spinetta  - a former Air France chief with the mission of balancing SNCF’s books.

The state owned rail operator is in €45 billion of debt and it’s growing by €3 billion a year.

But it appears the minister of transport Elisabeth borne’s plan is to prioritize the TGV for the big urban centres at the expense of towns in the countryside.

She made a comparison with the air industry.

“Airbus A380 planes do not serve Brive (a small town in central France),” Borne told the press on Tuesday.

High-speed TGV trains currently stop at 230 stations across France.

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The problem highlighted in a 2014 report is that in 40 percent of TGV journeys the trains are only running at the speed of regional trains (TER) because they are not on high speed tracks, known as LGV.

That earned some TGV services the nickname "deluxe TERs" but even though passengers were comfortable and local politicians happy, these "deluxe TERs" were costing the tax payer dearly as they are far more expensive to run.

But the idea of cutting TGV services to stations in parts of rural France is clearly a sensitive one and many local economies could lose out if the service is taken away.

Local politicians have fought hard to have stops in their areas and will not just give them up without a battle.

The names of the stations under threat have not been announced but some train drivers have apparently already made their own minds up about where to stop and where to skip.

On Monday the driver of a TGV train bund for are de Lyon forgot to stop at the station of Montélimar, in between Avignon and Valence.

 

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