High-speed train line to connect Paris to Toulouse in 3 hours

A project to create a new direct connection between Paris and Toulouse has been accelerated, with the three-hour connection now scheduled to start in 2024, five years ahead of schedule.

High-speed train line to connect Paris to Toulouse in 3 hours
Photo: Guillaume Souvnant/AFP

Currently, traveling from Paris to Toulouse on the high-speed TGV train requires passing through Bordeaux, bringing the total journey time to four-and-a-half hours.

“Toulouse is the last big French city that isn’t served by the direct TGV,” said Gilles Dansart, journalist, rail transport specialist and editor of the site Mobilettre, specialising in mobility news. 

The government will devote €4.1 billion to the project, which has been under discussion for around 40 years.

According to France 3, the idea of connecting Toulouse to the capital through the high-speed rail network was first floated around the 1980s, though nothing concrete was set into action until 2004 by Philippe Douste Blazy, the former Mayor of Toulouse. 

Originally, Blazy set the project date to 2015. This was later pushed back a few times and was put on hold completely, relaunching in 2018 for a 2030 opening. The project is now back on for 2024, the year that Paris will be hosting the Olympics. 

Speaking to France Info, one Toulousain commented “with the comfort of the train, being able to take it after work to arrive in Paris within three hours before 8pm we can join friends when the bars and restaurants open!”


Member comments

  1. Er, perhaps something lost in translation? The project will take 7 years and will not start on the ground until 2024, leading to an opening in 2030 (and that’s assuming they can agree the final details of the route by 2024). It is costed at 6 billion euros altogether, which means the remaining share of 1.9 billion still has to be agreed – that took a while longer than planned for the Tours – Bordeaux LGV. There is also a plan to bypass Bordeaux, which would make the journey time between Paris and Toulouse much faster, but that seems to be on hold.

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9 things you might not know about the TGV as France’s high-speed train turns 40

France's high speed intercity train is celebrating its 40th birthday, so here are some more unusual facts about the much-loved TGV.

9 things you might not know about the TGV as France's high-speed train turns 40
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

In 1981, President François Mitterrand officially inaugurated the first high-speed rail line connecting Paris and Lyon. A few days later, a bright orange TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, French for “high-speed train”) raced down the tracks at over 200km/h.

In celebration of the TGVs landmark birthday, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Pierre Farandou – President of the SNCF, France’s national railway company – were on Friday at the Gare de Lyon in Paris to unveil the ‘TGV of the future’.

In front of a full-scale model of the new TGV M, Macron hailed a prime example of “French genius” and promised to unlock €6.5 billion to develop the TGV network, including new lines serving cities such as Nice and Toulouse.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about taking the train in France

Emmanuel Macron (right) delivers a speech next to a life-size replica of the next TGV high-speed train at Photo by Michel Euler / POOL / AFP

“We’re going to continue this grand adventure with new industrial commitments,” since more people are looking beyond metropoles to smaller cities – an apparent allusion to post-Covid prospects.

“We see clearly that life and work are going to be restructured, and that our fellow citizens today want to organise their time for living and time for working differently,” he said.

The streamlined version of the bullet train promises to carry more passengers – up to 740 passengers from 600 – while using 20 percent less electricity.

It will continue to whiz people between cities at a top speed of 320 km/h, making most door-to-door trips shorter and cheaper than on airplanes.

To celebrate the birthday of the TGV (which in French is pronounce tay-shay-vay) blowing out its 40 candles, here are a few fun facts about the super-speedy trains.

Patrick  – That’s the name of the first TGV. Built in 1978 and set into action in 1981 on the Paris-Lyon line, the bright orange Patrick travelled some 13.5 million kilometres before taking his well-earned retirement last year.

574.8 km/h – That’s the world rail speed record, held by the Alstom V150 TGV. Although Japan’s superconductor-powered Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains travel faster – with a record of 603 km/h – they technically don’t run on rails.

3 – That’s how many times the TGV has set the world rail speed record: in 1981 (380 km/h), 1990 (515.3 km/h) and 2007 (574.8 km/h). 

2,734 km – That’s the total length of France’s high-speed rail network, with even more lines set to be constructed in the future. This means France has the fourth-longest high-speed rail network in the world, behind China, Spain, and Japan. 

0 – That’s how many passengers sit aboard the IRIS 320, which travels some 1,500 km every day. Laden with cameras and scanners, this 200-metre-long TGV rapidly inspects the state of the TGV’s train lines in order to ensure travellers’ safety and security.

€7 – That’s how much it costs to take a small pet – including a snail – on the TGV. Animals, even tiny ones, need their own tickets. In 2008 a TGV passenger fined for carrying live snails in his luggage without a ticket for his animals, although the fine was later waived after the story received national attention.

240 That’s the number of stations served by the TGV network. 183 of these stations can be found in France. The others are located in Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 

3 billion – That’s how many travellers the TGV had hoped to reach by the end of 2021. The pandemic may have derailed their plans slightly, but the service is still looking strong. The network served it’s 2 billionth passenger in 2012, just over 30 years after its launch.

1947 – the last year without a single recorded strike on the rail network in France. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that pre-1947 was a golden age of industrial relations – just that SNCF’s records are incomplete before then.