Readers planning rail trips around Northern France later this year must bear in mind that there may be changes.
According to France3 Hauts-de-France SNCF may have to cut back TGV services within this region.
Currently the TGVs run off high-speed tracks to run at conventional speeds when serving points such as Calais, Bologne, Dunkirk, Bethune, Lens, Valenciennes etc.
Any changes would not take effect until December (the start of SNCF’s winter timetable).
Running TGVs away from the high-speed network is a costly exercise. High-speed trains are intended for high-speed use and not to amble along conventional track.
In other words TGVs are not being used efficiently.
From an aviation viewpoint it’s akin to British Airways deploying Concorde for domestic flights.
(On odd occasions BA did operate Concorde on domestic services when it was flush with cash and had something special to celebrate. There’s an historic photo taken at Glasgow in 1983 with no fewer than *three* Concordes on domestic duties)
So the French government wants SNCF to operate its TGVs to nearby stations on the high-speed network.
Travellers from the locations named above would then have to take local trains to make the connection.
The French government says it will wipe out SNCF’s debt provided it takes measures to keep it under control.
SNCF’s debt currently stands at a staggering €47 billion. The government has promised to pay €35 billion.
Clearly there is much opposition from local residents – see the link to France3 above. It remains to be see what happens in the months ahead.