France launches new high speed rail line

Build a high-speed rail line and they will come—this has proven true time and again in Europe since the first high-speed line (Paris-Lyon) was launched. istory is repeating itself with the new TGV* East line, which opened today, slashing previous train travel times by one-third to one-half between Paris and eastern France (Reims, Metz, Nancy, Colmar, Strasbourg, etc), Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Since Rail Europe announced the availability of TGV East tickets (on April 10, 60 days before service started), the number of North American passengers buying tickets for these routes has increased an average of 65% over the same period last year (when journey times were longer). Some routes have seen ticket sales increase as much as 400% (Nancy-Strasbourg) or 368% (Paris-Stuttgart). On other routes, ticket sales are nearly double what they were during April-June 2006: Mulhouse-Paris (94%), Metz-Paris (92%), Paris-Strasbourg (84%).

Besides cutting travel times nearly in half, the launch of TGV East has also increased the frequency along routes to and within eastern France 15-20%, plus now there are many direct trains, where previously passengers had to transfer at intermediate stations.

High-speed rail has traditionally captured the major share of combined air/rail traffic along routes where train journeys are under 3 hours. The new TGV line is expected to garner 75% of the Paris-Strasbourg market within one year and eventually 90%. Air France previously announced plans to discontinue flights Paris-Metz in July.