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MAP: The proposed new routes for night trains in France

As the pandemic and increasing environmental concerns change the way we travel, France's transport minister has a dream - 10 night trains by 2030.

MAP: The proposed new routes for night trains in France
Photo: AFP

France already has two night train lines and another two are set to open up by the end of 2021, but for transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari this is only the start.

The minister has commissioned a report into greatly expanding France's night train network, both for domestic lines and inter-European routes and has declared his ambition to have 10 night train routes running by 2030.

 

He told Le Parisien: “I'm convinced that when the means are there, with a good quality of service and the right commercial offer, there is a clientele for night trains.

“With the ecological stakes, 'flyskam' (flight shame) and the pandemic that is reshaping the way we travel, the night train has everything to attract travellers.

“Look at Austria, they have 28 night lines. In France, the development of the TGV has eaten up the night trains and the offer has deteriorated. All that has to change.”

A government feasibility study has now been published and identified 7 possible routes for night trains, with Paris and Nice acting as 'hubs'.

 

The survey proposes the following routes:

  • Paris to south west France and into northern Spain, via Tours, Bordeaux and Bayonne
  • Paris to Marseille in a loop via Tours and Bordeaux before running along the south coast to Marseille
  • Paris to Barcelona via Brive
  • Paris to Toulouse via Orléans with branch lines to Clermont-Ferrand and Albi
  • Paris to Nice via Avignon and Marseille
  • Nice to Quimper in Brittany via Lyon, with a branch line going to Bordeaux
  • Nice to Metz via Strasbourg and Lyon, with a branch line crossing the Swiss border to Geneva and Lyon

Night trains already run between Paris and Briançon in the Alps and Cerbère in the Pyrenees and the two scheduled to begin by the end of 2021 are the Paris to Nice route and Paris to Tarbes in the south west.

 

The EU is also investing in rail connections, with plans for an ultra-rapid network that would make it possible to travel from Paris to Berlin in four hours.

READ ALSO MAP The plan for Europe's ultra-rapid train network

Once the two lines reopen in 2021 – which are funded until 2022 – there is no guaranteed funding or firm plans for other routes.

Djebbari said: “This still needs to be discussed at a ministerial level, with parliament and local authorities.

“These are proposals that need to be refined. Given the major work that needs to be carried out on the network, it will be difficult to open many others before 2025.

“But the history of night trains does not stop in 2022. It is also a question of regional planning. My ambition is 10 night trains by 2030.”

 
 

 

Member comments

  1. We would like to see the car trains put back onto the routes. We used to take the overnight train from Paris to Nice and put the car on the car train. The car train was recently withdrawn which is of no use to us. Will the car trains be reinstated?

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ENVIRONMENT

France gets help from EU neighbours as wildfires rage

Firefighting teams and equipment from six EU nations started to arrive in France on Thursday to help battle a spate of wildfires, including a fierce blaze in the parched southwest that has forced thousands to evacuate.

France gets help from EU neighbours as wildfires rage

Most of the country is sweltering under a summer heatwave compounded by a record drought – conditions most experts say will occur more often as a result of rapid climate change.

“We must continue, more than ever, our fight against climate disruption and … adapt to this climate disruption,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said after arriving at a fire command post in the village of Hostens, south of Bordeaux.

The European Commission said four firefighting planes would be sent to France from Greece and Sweden, as well as teams from Austria, Germany, Poland and Romania.

“Our partners are coming to France’s aid against the fires. Thank you to them. European solidarity is at work!” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

“Across the country over 10,000 firefighters and security forces are mobilised against the flames… These soldiers of fire are our heroes,” he said.

In total, 361 foreign firefighters were  dispatched to assist their 1,100 French colleagues deployed in the worst-hit part of the French southwest.

A first contingent of 65 German firefighters, followed by their 24 vehicles, arrived Thursday afternoon and were to go into action at dawn Friday, officials said.

Among eight major fires currently raging, the biggest is the Landiras fire in the southwest Gironde department, whose forests and beaches draw huge tourist crowds each summer.

It had already burned 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres) in July – the driest month seen in France since 1961 – before being contained, but it continued to smoulder in the region’s tinder-dry pine forests and peat-rich soil.

Since flaring up again Tuesday, which officials suspect may have been caused by arson, it has burned 7,400 hectares, destroyed or damaged 17 homes, and forced 10,000 people to quit their homes, said Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Mendousse of the Gironde fire and rescue service.

Borne said nine firefighting planes are already dumping water on the blaze, with two more to be in service by the weekend.

“Gigantic”
“We battled all night to stop the fire from spreading, notably to defend the village of Belin-Beliet,” Mendousse told journalists in Hostens.

On several houses nearby, people hung out white sheets saying: “Thank you for saving our homes” and other messages of support for the weary fire battalions.

“You’d think we’re in California, it’s gigantic… And they’re used to forest fires here but we’re being overwhelmed on all sides — nobody could have expected this,” Remy Lahlay, a firefighter deployed near Hostens in the Landes de Gascogne natural park, told AFP.

With temperatures in the region hitting nearly 40C on Thursday and forecast to stay high until at least Sunday, “there is a very serious risk of new outbreaks” for the Landiras fire, the prefecture of the Gironde department said.

Acrid smoke has spread across much of the southwestern Atlantic coast and its beaches that draw huge crowds of tourists each summer, with the regional ARS health agency “strongly” urging people to wear protective face masks.

The smoke also forced the closing of the A63 motorway, a major artery toward Spain, between Bordeaux and Bayonne.

The government has urged employers to allow leaves of absence for volunteer firefighters to help fight the fires.

Meanwhile, in Portugal, more than 1,500 firefighters were also battling a fire that has raged for days in the mountainous Serra da Estrela natural park in the centre of the country.

It has already burned 10,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

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