TGV - History - Service History

Service History

The TGV opened to the public between Paris and Lyon on 27 September 1981. Contrary to its earlier fast services, SNCF intended the TGV service for all types of passengers, with the same ticket price as for trains running on the parallel conventional line. To counteract the popular misconception that the TGV would be another premium service for business travellers, SNCF started a major publicity campaign focusing on the speed, frequency, reservation policy, normal price, and broad accessibility of the service. This commitment to a democratised TGV service was further enhanced in the Mitterrand era with the promotional slogan "Progress means nothing unless it is shared by all". The TGV was considerably faster than normal trains, cars, or aeroplanes. The trains became widely popular, the public welcoming fast and practical travel.

Further LGVs have opened: the LGV Atlantique (LN2) to Tours/Le Mans (construction begun 1985, in operation 1989); the LGV Nord-Europe (LN3) to Calais and the Belgian border (construction begun 1989, in operation 1993); the LGV Rhône-Alpes (LN4), extending the LGV Sud-Est to Valence (construction begun 1990, in operation 1992); and the LGV Méditerranée (LN5) to Marseille (construction begun 1996, in operation 2001). The LGV Est (LN6) from Paris to Strasbourg was inaugurated on 15 March 2007, and opened to the public in the summer of 2007. The LGV Perpignan-Figueras (LN7) opened on December 2010. And in 2011 the LGV Rhin-Rhône (LN8) first phase opening. In its first month of operation, more than 1,000,000 passengers traveled on the line. High speed lines based on LGV technology connecting with the French network have been built in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The Eurostar service began operation in 1994, connecting continental Europe to London via the Channel Tunnel with a version of the TGV designed for use in the tunnel and in the United Kingdom. The line used the LGV Nord-Europe from the outset. The first phase of the British High Speed 1 line, or Channel Tunnel Rail Link, was completed in 2003, and the second phase was completed in November 2007. The fastest trains take 2 hours 15 minutes on the London-Paris and 1 hour 51 minutes on the London-Brussels routes.

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