France could cut number of stations served by high-speed TGV trains

French rail chiefs might have to drastically cut the number of rail stations around the country served by the high-speed TGV trains in a bid to cut costs and reduce the debt burden.

France could cut number of stations served by high-speed TGV trains
Photo: AFP

Reports in France on Tuesday said the government was considering the drastic measure which would spell bad news for anyone living outside the country’s biggest cities.

The ministry of transport has tasked Jean-Cyril Spinetta  – a former Air France chief with the mission of balancing SNCF’s books.

The state owned rail operator is in €45 billion of debt and it’s growing by €3 billion a year.

But it appears the minister of transport Elisabeth borne’s plan is to prioritize the TGV for the big urban centres at the expense of towns in the countryside.

She made a comparison with the air industry.

“Airbus A380 planes do not serve Brive (a small town in central France),” Borne told the press on Tuesday.

High-speed TGV trains currently stop at 230 stations across France.


The problem highlighted in a 2014 report is that in 40 percent of TGV journeys the trains are only running at the speed of regional trains (TER) because they are not on high speed tracks, known as LGV.

That earned some TGV services the nickname “deluxe TERs” but even though passengers were comfortable and local politicians happy, these “deluxe TERs” were costing the tax payer dearly as they are far more expensive to run.

But the idea of cutting TGV services to stations in parts of rural France is clearly a sensitive one and many local economies could lose out if the service is taken away.

Local politicians have fought hard to have stops in their areas and will not just give them up without a battle.

The names of the stations under threat have not been announced but some train drivers have apparently already made their own minds up about where to stop and where to skip.

On Monday the driver of a TGV train bund for are de Lyon forgot to stop at the station of Montélimar, in between Avignon and Valence.



Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

Sweden's government has called for a halt to planning to faster train links between Gothenburg and Borås and Jönköping and Hässleholm, in a move local politicians have called "a catastrophe".

Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

In an announcement slipped out just before Christmas Eve, the government said it had instructed the Swedish Transport Administration to stop all planning for the Borås to Gothenburg link, stop the ongoing work on linking Hässleholm and Lund. 

“The government wants investments made in the railway system to first and foremost make it easier for commuting and cargo traffic, because that promotes jobs and growth,” infrastructure minister Andreas Carlson said in a press release. “Our approach is for all investments in the railways that are made to be more cost effective than if the original plan for new trunk lines was followed.” 

Ulf Olsson, the Social Democrat mayor in Borås, told the TT newswire that the decision was “a catastrophe”. 

“We already have Sweden’s slowest railway, so it’s totally unrealistic to try to build on the existing railway,” he said. We are Sweden’s third biggest commuting region and have no functioning rail system, and to release this the day before Christmas Eve is pretty symptomatic.”

Per Tryding, the deputy chief executive for the Southern Sweden Chamber of Commerce, complained that the decision meant Skåne, Sweden’s most southerly county, would now have no major rail infrastructure projects. 

“Now the only big investment in Skåne which was in the plan is disappearing, and Skåne already lay far behind Gothenburg and Stockholm,” he said.

“This is going to cause real problems and one thing that is certain that it’s going to take a very long time, whatever they eventually decide. It’s extremely strange to want to first suspend everything and then do an analysis instead of doing it the other way around.”  

The government’s instructions to the transport agency will also mean that there will be no further planning on the so-called central parts of the new planned trunk lines, between Linköping and Borås and Hässleholm and Jönköping. 

Carlson said that the government was prioritising “the existing rail network, better road standards, and a build-out of charging infrastructure”.