On 1 July, SNCF opened new routes to Bordeaux and Rennes, as KEITH FENDER reports

Europe View Special Report

In the late 1980s one of French Railways’ (SNCF’s) fastest non-TGV trains, the ‘Aquitaine’, operating at 200km/h, could cover the journey from Paris to Bordeaux in just over four hours. The opening of the LGV Atlantique from Paris to the outskirts of Tours and Le Mans in 1990 reduced this to 3hr 15min (early 2017 timings). On 1 July 2017 SNCF inaugurated the new 302km LGV L’Océane extension of this line from Tours to Bordeaux; the inaugural train left Paris at 08.41 and just 1hr 49min later was crossing the river Dordogne and approaching the outskirts of Bordeaux! The last few kilometres were covered more sedately – no doubt to ensure the incredibly well-choreographed plan for the day proceeded to the minute! The train arrived two minutes early in a start-to-stop journey of 2hr 1min 12sec – almost exactly half the pre-TGV journey time!

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