Heralded as the future for international rail to/from the UK, TGV Lyria was a high-speed service heading deep into mainland Europe and tailored to the needs of UK travellers.
But from December 12, after barely a year of service, TGV Lyria’s ambitious plan to link Lille with Geneva in around four-and-a-half hours will end.
Although TGV Lyria ran only to Lille, rather than continue on to London, there were good connections tailored to Eurostar passengers travelling to/from the UK.
The entire journey from London, including a 30-minute change at Lille Europe, was taking a further two hours.
However, an alert has appeared on the TGV Lyria website informing prospective passengers about the “suppression of the Geneva-Lille line” which “did not meet with the expected commercial success.”
The service will be missed by a number of our forum members who expressed an interest in trying it out an as an alternative to the plane.
What went wrong? Rail enthusiasts blame the lack of a daily service (TGV Lyria operated four times a week) and the fact that there was only one train and this reached Geneva just after 2000. In the words of one traveller, the arrival into Geneva made it “too late to connect by train to other Swiss resorts and too late for dinner wherever you were going”.
Neither is the return service, leaving Geneva at 0830, convenient if you were not staying in the city itself.
TGV Lyria is operated as a joint venture between France’s SNCF and Switzerland’s SBB.
People, myself included, are saying it ought to have been given more time to make a success of itself. After all, the scheduled airlines (noting that the new high-speed rail firms like to think of themselves as airlines) allow a good couple of years for a route to settle in and to allow time to tweak to the schedules and so on.
And shouldn’t the rail companies better co-operate with one another? SNCF is involved with TGV Lyria and SNCF is the majority owner of Eurostar which itself is basically a French product.
This late cancellation will also inconvenience passengers. Not only will they now have to change trains in Paris, and transit between Paris Nord and Paris Lyon, but a number will already have made their bookings for early 2016 as TGV Lyria is bookable up to four months ahead.
Politicians and green-minded individuals encourage us to take the train. But the rail companies have a lot to learn from the airlines in how to promote themselves and operate a commercial business.