Travelling directly by train between London and Bordeaux came a step closer earlier with the agreement between the four route infrastructure managers to jointly launch a feasibility study on the adaptions required for making Bordeaux Saint Jean station ready for international passengers.
This agreement is a key milestone in the innovative cooperation between SNCF-Réseau, Eurotunnel, Lisea and HS1 in their bid to create a ‘turn-key’ open access route for an operator.
Arnaud Sohier, SNCF Réseau commercial director, said: “This cooperation between infrastructure managers marks our common will to set the foundations for the development of a cross-Channel rail service between London and Bordeaux.”
The study will scope the requirements for the facilities for a new border control and security to allow passengers to travel directly from Bordeaux St Jean station to London St Pancras without the need to change trains.
Jean-Pierre Ramirez, Eurotunnel railway network director, added: “International travellers cherish the convenience of direct high-speed rail services.
“Following the success of London-Amsterdam, the introduction of such an offer between Bordeaux and London is set to become the market reference.”
The new service would take under five hours and is made possible by the recent opening of the high-speed line – South Europe Atlantic (LGV – Sud-Europe Atlantique) route between Tours and Bordeaux.
Wendy Spinks, HS1 commercial director, commented: “With one in four British Expats living in the Bordeaux Region, we have every confidence that this will be a successful and well-used route.
“Today we are demonstrating this confidence by investing in the station development necessary to make it a reality.”
Over one million people travelled by air between London and Bordeaux region last year.
Modelling shows that up to 20 per cent would switch to rail for a service of this distance.
Philippe Jausserand, LISEA commercial director, said: “There is already significant demand for travel between the south-west of France and London.
“Our new line between Tours and Bordeaux is the last link in the high-speed route allowing a fast, direct and competitive journey to London.
“The ideal conditions are now in place to design a future international terminal for Bordeaux Saint Jean.”
Britain and France have a unique and passenger-friendly rail border control system.
Passports get checked by both authorities on departure.
This means passengers can simply step off the train on arrival without further checks.
Creating a new control requires physical adaptations for borders and security, such as fencing.
The study will explore costs and options for making this possible at Bordeaux St Jean.