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TRAVEL NEWS

Direct London to Bordeaux rail service ‘to open in five years’

New direct high-speed rail services connecting London and major tourist resorts in France could be up and running in five years after all, the chairman of Eurotunnel’s parent company has suggested.

Direct London to Bordeaux rail service 'to open in five years'
(Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP)

Jacques Gounon, the boss of Getlink, which operates the Eurotunnel infrastructure and the Eurotunnel shuttle service, said he hoped a direct Eurostar passenger service between London and Bordeaux would begin running through the tunnel within five years, and said there were long-term plans to add a new line between the English capital and the French Riviera, amid ongoing questions over the future viability of private jets in a climate crisis.

“We’re working on a London-Bordeaux route,” Gounon told Europe 1’s La France Bouge programme, adding: “There is a market in the long term, the more we talk about decarbonisation and the end of private jets, which is London to Côte d’Azur because it remains a highly attractive place for the British.”

The timing of any future service remains unknown, Gounon admitted. “In the field of railways and Franco-British diplomatic relations, the slightest progress means a bit of technique, a lot of conviction.” 

And, confusingly, Gounon’s comments on Monday ran contrary to the previously reported future plans of Eurostar.

A London-Bordeaux route has been in the pipeline for some time. A feasibility study on the adaptations required for making Bordeaux Saint Jean station ready for international passengers was launched in 2018; while merger plans unveiled earlier this year between Eurostar and Thalys indicated that the plans were moving apace.

Earlier this month, Eurostar announced Gwendoline Cazanave would take over as CEO from Jacques Damas. It also announced plans to focus on core routes: London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

At the end of August, it announced it would stop its London to Disneyland Paris routes in the summer of 2023 due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. The company had said it had “taken the decision to no longer operate the direct London-Marne-la-Vallée route in the summer of 2023,” but no decision was made for the following year. 

“We will review our options for 2024 in the course of next year,” the train operator said.

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DRIVING IN FRANCE

French motorway breakdown services cost rises

Breaking down on a French motorway just got more expensive, as the government raised the prices that breakdown services can charge.

French motorway breakdown services cost rises

If you do break down, you should use the nearest emergency call box rather than your mobile phone (they’re about 2km apart). This puts you immediately in touch with the motorway company, and means your car is easier to locate. 

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in a driving emergency in France

If your vehicle can be repaired at the side of the motorway in 30 minutes or less, you will be charged a government-set fee. A decree published in September 2022 indicated that the fee would rise from €131.94 in 2021, to €138.01, plus parts.

If, however, the repair is likely to take longer, your vehicle will be towed. You can decide whether your vehicle is taken to the garage to which the truck belongs, or one of your own choice, or another location within an acceptable distance.

For breakdown assistance that requires a tow (to a rest or service area, to a garage or to a location chosen by the motorist), this rate – again, set by the government annually – varies according to the weight of the vehicle.

These charges are now:

  • €138.01 for vehicles weighing no more than 1.8 tonnes (up from €131.94 in 2021);
  • €170.65 for vehicles with a total weight greater than 1.8 tonnes and less than 3.5 tonnes (up from €163.15).

Be aware: Add 50 percent to these charges if the call was made at weekends and public holidays, or between the hours of 6pm and 6am Monday to Friday.

Meanwhile, running out of fuel is not considered an unforeseen emergency for stopping at the side of a motorway. Motorists are expected to keep an eye on their fuel gauge and ensure they have enough fuel to complete their journey or to be able to reach the nearest service station.

For full details on what to do if your car breaks down in France, plus some handy French vocab, click HERE.

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