France to get five new high speed train lines after government gives green light

The French government has approved five new high speed TGV train lines as part of a plan which will see a whopping €13.4 billion invested in the country's transport infrastructure by 2023.

France to get five new high speed train lines after government gives green light
Photo: AFP
According to Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne this figure represents a 40 percent increase on the five-year period before French President Emmanuel Macron was elected. 
The decision of where it was to be spent has been eagerly awaited since it was announced in January that the government would be investing €3 billion a year in improving the country's transport infrastructure. 
The work will be staggered over time to avoid incurring large expenses immediately.
So where will the new lines run?
The new LGV (Lignes a Grande Vitesse) rail lines are set to run from:
The main train stations in the two south west cities will also be developed and expanded to accommodate more passengers and more trains.
This upgrade means passengers will be able to travel from Paris to Toulouse in 3 hours 10 minutes in future rather than the current 4 hours and 15 minutes.
The Montpellier-Béziers section will be developed as a priority on this new line between the two cities on the Mediterranean coast in south west France. Presumably this will help speed up the TGV trains that link Paris and Gerona in northern Spain.
They currently have to slow down to a reduce speed once they pass Montpellier.
The two cities on the Mediterranean coast could do with a high speed rail link up.
Paris-Le Havre
St Lazare station in Paris will be expanded as a first move to improve the line between Paris and the northern French port before the sections of the line between Paris and Mantes and then Mantes-Rouen will be upgraded to high speed lines.
CDG airport Roissy-Picardie
This will open improve access between the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France to the south of the northern Hauts-de-France region.
Passengers will be able to reach Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle train station from Chantilly, Creil, Pont-Sainte-Maxence, Clermont, Compiègne (Oise) and Amiens (Somme) on a direct train.
However before work begins on the new lines, the investments need to be integrated into a transport law which is set to be presented to parliament in October 2018 by the transport minister.
But these aren't the only changes set to hit France's much-lauded rail network. 
Paris – Limoges line to be improved

The government has also sanctioned the upgrade of the Intercité (now called TET line) between Paris and Toulouse via Limoges.
All of the trains on the line will replaced by newer models and the lines upgraded which will cut 25 minutes off the journey time between Paris and Limoges.
Ouigo services from Gare de Lyon
The low-cost TGV service Ouigo is also set to grow its service and will start running services from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Marseille and the Côte d'Azur from December. 


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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.