One week after the French broke the new world speed record for steel-wheel-on-steel-rails (357 mph) and 60 days before the start of commercial service, tickets and schedules for the newest high-speed TGV* rail line, TGV East, are available from Rail Europe. Rail Europe is a subsidiary of the French National Railroads (SNCF) and largest North American supplier of European rail travel.
TGV East will cut current train travel times by one-third to one-half between 20 destinations in France, as well as between Paris and 10 destinations in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The frequency of service will increase by 15-20% along the new line, which runs from Paris east through the Champagne, Lorraine and Alsace regions of France, serving cities such as Reims, Nancy, Metz and Strasbourg. The new line also provides faster rail connections from eastern France to other regions, including Ile-de-France, northern, western and southeastern France — to cities such as Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes. [See table comparing current and new travel times below.]
65% increase in rail travel expected — half of this at expense of air
The French National Railroads (SNCF) expects TGV East to increase the number of rail passengers traveling along the route by 65% in the first year. Half of that growth will come from those who currently fly, the other half from either those who now drive or entirely new passengers who will decide to travel because of the convenience of the new rail service. “These predictions are in line with what has historically happened whenever a high-speed rail line is launched,” explains Fabrice Morel, President and CEO of Rail Europe.
Faster, more comfortable trains
The world record run on April 5 took place on a section of the new TGV East track using a specially-modified train. Standard operating speed for TGV East service, starting June 10, will be 199 mph (320 km/hr) — faster than any other train in Europe. Top speed of current TGV (and other European high-speed) trains is 186 mph (300 km/hr).
With interiors designed by Christian Lacroix, the new TGV East trains will not only be faster, but more comfortable: more spacious reclining seats, adjustable lighting and special “family” areas with game board tables, as well as electrical outlets at each 1st class seat and more legroom in 2nd class. Passengers in 1st class can also reserve (onboard the train) a taxi for their arrival in Paris or Strasbourg Monday-Friday. “Meeting spaces” for 2-3 people and 4 electrical outlets make it easy for business travelers to work along the way.
Five stations on the TGV East route have Wi-Fi access, 21 stations (including Paris East and Strasbourg) have been thoroughly modernized and renovated, and three new TGV stations have been built, which offer connections to nearby towns by frequent regional trains or shuttle buses.
Emphasis on Service
Onboard each train and each platform served by TGV East, there will be train managers who can help passengers with information about connecting trains/tracks at each stop.
In preparation for the launch of TGV East, SNCF created a Service University to educate station and train personnel on customer-oriented service.
Faster travel times
Between with TGV East (from June 10) Current time
Paris-Reims 45 min. 1 hr. 35 min.
Paris-Nancy 1 hr 30 min. 2 hr. 40 min.
Paris-Strasbourg 4 hr. 2 hr. 20 min.
Paris-Luxembourg 2 hr. 5 min. 3 hr. 35 min.
Paris-Zurich 4 hr. 32 min. 5 hr. 50 min.
Paris-Frankfurt 3 hr 50 min. 6 hr 15 min.
The following prices are for one-way, full-fare (fully exchangeable/refundable) tickets. Special offers will appear at www.raileurope.com.
Paris-Reims: $43 (2nd cl.) or $75 (1st)
Paris-Nancy: $76 (2nd) or $135 (1st)
Paris-Strasbourg: $ $96 (2nd) or $170 (1st)
Paris-Basel: $128 (2nd) or $193 (1ST)
Paris-Stuttgart: $144 (2nd) or $250 (1st)
A France Railpass — which covers 3 days of unlimited rail travel throughout France within a one-month period — starts at $227. (Seat reservations, which are required on all TGVs, must be purchased separately) .
For more information or to book railpasses or tickets for individual or group travel on TGV East or trains throughout Europe and the UK, consult a travel agent or log on to www.raileurope.com or call Rail Europe at 1-888-382-7245.