Bordeaux is set to be the first of three new European destinations served by direct trains from St Pancras International.
Talks were held in the French city on April 25, with the possibility that trains could be running in two years. HS1 Ltd, Lisea, Eurotunnel and SNCF Réseau, the operator on the proposed route, attended the meeting.
They are working on pre-planned and agreed timetable paths designed to speed up the introduction into traffic. They also discussed developing Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean for international departures.
“Eurostar has previously operated an indirect route and has expressed interest in running a direct service. However, this may not necessarily be a Eurostar operation,” HS1 Ltd Chief Executive Dyan Crowther told RAIL.
The new French service would take less than five hours and would use the new 188-mile high speed line between Tours and Paris that opened last July.
Crowther told RAIL: “A couple of years is realistic. The co-operation between the railway infrastructure managers means that route development is at an advanced stage and awaiting an operator. The key to unlocking the route is agreement between the UK and French governments on border controls.”
Currently passengers must change trains in the French capital, with a 65-minute connection in Paris. The return connection is 115 minutes, owing to passing through border and security controls. It is planned the latter will be in Bordeaux, with the route bypassing Paris.
Crowther said: “This is the first time that railway operators have collaborated in this way, and saves the train operator having to do a lot of legwork. The route is almost ready for a train operator to turn up and turn the key as soon as the UK and French Governments agree on border controls.”
- The FULL story appears in RAIL 852, published on May 9, and available digitally on Android/iPad from May 5.