High-Speed Train Linking France to Spain Opens, Hopes to Lure Air Passengers

By Paul Riegler on 15 December 2013
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Renfe, the Spanish national railway company, and SNCF, France’s state-owned rail operator, inaugurated new high-speed rail service between the two countries  on Sunday.  The new bullet train will cut the journey time between Paris and Barcelona in half.

The Direct TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) service between Gare de Lyon in the French capital and Barcelona’s Sants station will operate twice daily.

Trains will depart Paris at 7:15 a.m. and 2:07 p.m. and arrive in Barcelona at 1:40 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. respectively. Trains from Barcelona to Paris will depart at 9:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. and arrive at 3:53 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.  Two additional departures are scheduled to be added from each city in March 2014.

The trip by train, up until now, lasted roughly 12 hours.  New tracks and the high-speed trains enabled the railways to cut the time in half.

Two direct TGVs depart every day, once in the morning and another early afternoon (2 more services are due to launch at the end of March 2014).

Renfe said it hopes to lure people who typically fly between the two cities to try the new service.  While it only takes one hour and a quarter to fly between the two cities, the train’s operators hope that the convenience of going from downtown to downtown without a trip to and from the airport will sway travelers.

Renfe and SNCF plan to offer TGV service to cities that include Madrid, Marseille, Toulouse, and Lyon.

The TGV, which is capable of going as fast as 199 mph (320 km/h), first went into service in 1981.  The trains’ interiors were redesigned by Christian Lacroix in 2009.  First-class seats are in a 1-2 configuration and have wide reclining seats with approximately 45” of legroom, fold-down tables, foot rests, individual adjustable lights, and power outlets.  The second-class cabin seats are in a 2-2 configuration with 36” of legroom.  The train that will be used on this route is the double-decker TGV Duplex, and passengers have a choice of choosing a seat on the top floor (sale haute) or the main floor (salle basse).

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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