French rail link between Bordeaux and Lyon 'to return in 2024'

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French rail link between Bordeaux and Lyon 'to return in 2024'
Bordeaux's St-Jean train station. (Photo by MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP)

A co-operative rail business has unveiled plans to relaunch a cross-country French rail service that SNCF abandoned in 2014 - if it can raise €4.1 million


Trains could start running between the French cities of Bordeaux and Lyon for the first time in a decade, if a co-operative business has its way.

Railcoop, a co-operative of 13,771 members including a number of local authorities, has been running freight services since 2021 after the French rail network was opened up to new services. It intends to start running direct trains between the two cities from June 2024.

At present customers using SNCF services from Bordeaux to Lyon cannot go direct and must instead travel via Paris.


The €4.1 million in funding is required to cover necessary tangible and intangible investments, including the purchase of an additional X72500 three-coach train, Railcoop said in a statement following a meeting of its members.

It is currently raising funds in two ways, one in shares (via its website) and the other in equity securities, aimed at members and non-members (on the platform).

Under early plans, the 7.5-hour journey - Railcoop’s first passenger service, which will include stops at Périgueux, Limoges, Guéret, Montluçon, and Roanne - will initially be limited to a single one-way trip per day, followed by a return journey the following day. Eventually, Railcoop hopes to offer two round-trips a day.

Customers will be able to buy tickets on trains and through Railcoop’s partners. The decision to launch this restricted rail line in the summer of 2024 was ratified by a vote of Railcoop's members at a general meeting on February 22.

SNCF stopped running services between Bordeaux and Lyon in 2014, because it was no longer profitable.

At the same time, Railcoop is continuing to roll out its freight service. Its trains now run on a weekly basis between Capdenac (Aveyron) and Saint Gaudens (Haute-Garonne) via Toulouse St-Jory. An additional service to Gignac will launch shortly.

The co-operative is one of several companies running services on French railways since the government opened up competition with the State-owned SNCF. 


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