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French TGV bullet train turns 30

04-23-2011 09:09 BJT

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France is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its high-speed train, the TGV. A specially refurbished unit will tour the country for two months showing the achievements of a railway technology that has changed the life of millions of French and Europeans.

In three decades, the TGV has safely carried over 1.7 billion passengers over 1,900 kilometers of high-speed tracks.

The first high-speed line connected Paris to Lyon in around 2 hours. It was September 1981. In the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, the TGV would be propelled by electric engines with energy supplied by France's nuclear power stations.

The bullet train expanded rapidly with a commitment to democratized, affordable and practical travel for every French citizen. In the years that followed, other major French cities built their TGV stations, making the plane redundant in most domestic connections.

Guillaume Pepy (R), President of the French state-owned railway
company SNCF, and French actress Michele Laroque (2nd R) launch
the 30th anniversary celebrations of the TGV train (French High
Speed Train) during a ceremony at the Gare Montparnasse train
station in Paris April 7, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

France became the center of a European web of high-speed lines that are growing slowly but surely despite high budget deficits and indebted governments.

High fares and a fall in punctuality are small setbacks compared to the ambitions of the stat-run SCNF as outlined by the company's president.

Guillaume Pepy, President, SNCF Travel, said, "The French company SNCF makes up 50% of the European market of high-speed trains. Our ambition is to keep up that mark thanks to our partnership with the company Alstom, so that the French solution, the French TGV, remains among the first in the world ranking."

However the French bullet train is struggling to conquer emerging countries, as rivals from Japan, Germany and China can lay down high-speed intercity lines at more competitive rates. French railway infrastructure needs improvement and some decade-old trains still in use ask for a lift.

Train Driver, said, "This locomotive was built in 1982. This cockpit is quit simple in design and technology. Computers are not very much used here. This kind of trains will be used for some more years, they will undertake a renovation and improvement so that they can be used for years to come."

A specially decorated anniversary train, called TGV Experience arrived at Lyon station to celebrate the birthday of the first high-speed line. Until July 14, 16 French cities will welcome this special train with activities, goodies as well as an on-board exhibition of the things that the TGV has changed. Also a look to how the future will look like, with Europe becoming a smaller continent of interconnected big cities.

Guillaume Pepy (R), President of the French state-owned railway
company SNCF, and French actress Michele Laroque hold a TGV model
as they attend a ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the TGV
train (French High Speed Train) at the Gare Montparnasse train
station in Paris April 7, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Barbara Dalibard, Director, SNCF Travel, said, "Our main challenge will be developing the international connections, so getting linked to the lines that are being built right now in other European countries. We will then get to Geneva in just 3 hours from Paris, we will be able to get closer to Germany and London will also be nearer. We intend to link Paris to Barcelona in little more than 5 hours. So these are the current challenges of high speed trains."

Japan pioneered the bullet train, China has the longest network, but France boasts the world record for conventional high-speed rail held by an Alstom TGV which clocked over 574 kilometers per hour on a test run. It's a promising future tor the high-speed train, provided the necessary investments are made.

Constantino De Miguel, said, "The TGV is a profitable business but not for long. being the pioneer of high-speed trains means that the tracks are old and need urgent replacement so the earnings will be fully spent on improving that obsolete infrastructure. Constantino de Miguel, CCTV, Lyon, France."



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CNTV.CN

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