16 October, etc.venues Monument
30 October, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
1st November 2023, etc.venues County Hall
Smashing all previous records, an SNCF TGV service reached the extraordinary speed of 356mph (575kmh) or 150m per second this afternoon (3 April), on a line between Paris and Strasbourg.
Already famed for its high-speed network, SNCF pulverised the existing and already swift time of 320mph, set by one of its TGV Atlantique trains and although the line is still at an experimental stage, it is clear the French believe its technology can translate into everyday rail travel.
Given France”s size of around twice that of the UK, it has often proved quicker to travel between Paris and Strasbourg, not to mention several other key, trunk routes such as Marseilles, Bordeaux and Nice by air, but today”s stunning experiment will have the airlines looking over their shoulders.
And Rail Network (RFF) president Hubert Du Mesnil, understandably perhaps, couldn”t resist puffing out his chest with French pride: ”The speed record established today is witness to French expertise in the high-speed sector under RFF direction and to those who built the rail line,” he said.
The rail operators are clearly mobilising for a fight with the airlines and although the French have enjoyed high-velocity rail travel for years, other countries such as Germany, Spain and even the UK, are beginning to catch up.
The opening of London”s Eurostar terminal in St Pancras, for example, should see journey times to Paris slashed drastically to 2h15mins, while completion of the West Coast Main Line will significantly improve train times between the UK capital and Manchester.
SNCF also used the occasion to bang the rail drum. ”This speed record is both on the technological and human scale,” said SNCF president, Anne-Marie Idrac. The tests on board the V150 rail line allow us to look forward on four principal fronts: the on-board experience, safety, performance and the environment.”
News of SNCF”s lightning dash comes in stark contrast to yesterday”s rather deflating figures detailing a slight fall in UK short sea crossings. Despite the ferry companies' best efforts, rail is clearly winning the ratings war.