The TGV (French: Train à Grande Vitesse, meaning high-speed train) is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator.

It was developed during the 1970s by GEC-Alsthom (now Alstom) and SNCF. Although originally designed to be powered by gas turbines, the TGV prototypes evolved into electric trains with the petrol crisis of 1973. Following the inaugural TGV service between Paris and Lyon in 1981 on the "LGV Sud-Est" (LGV (French: Ligne à Grande Vitesse, meaning high-speed line)), the TGV network, centred on Paris, has expanded to connect cities across France and in adjacent countries.

A TGV test train set the record for the fastest wheeled train, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on 3 April 2007. As of mid 2011, scheduled TGV trains operate at the highest speeds in conventional train service in the world, regularly reaching 320 km/h (200 mph) on the "LGV Est". As of mid 2012, the same speed is reached on the "LGV Sud-Est".

A TGV service held the record for the fastest scheduled rail journey with a start to stop average speed of 279.4 km/h (173.6 mph), which was temporarily surpassed by the Chinese CRH service Harmony express on the Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway from December 2009 until July 2011.

The success of the first line, the "LGV Sud-Est", led to an expansion of the network, with new lines built in the south ("LGV Méditerranée"), west ("LGV Atlantique"), north ("LGV Nord") and east ("LGV Est") of the country. Eager to emulate the success of the French network, neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany built their own high-speed lines. TGVs link with Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Belgium through the French network, with Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands through the Thalys network, and the Eurostar network links France and Belgium with the United Kingdom. Several lines are planned, including extensions within France and to surrounding countries. Cities such as Tours have become a part of a "TGV commuter belt".

In 2007, SNCF generated profits of €1.1 billion (approximately US$1.75 billion or £875 million) driven largely by higher margins on the TGV network.

Read more about TGVHistory

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