Alstom Avelia Horizon high speed train impression

FRANCE: High speed rail start-up Proxima has announced a €1bn plan backed by investor Antin Infrastructure Partners to acquire 12 Alstom trainsets and launch open access services from Bordeaux, Nantes, Rennes and Angers to Paris.

Proxima has been established by former Voyages SNCF CEO Rachel Picard, who was involved with the development of the Ouigo brand, and Timothy Jackson, founder of leasing company Alpha Trains and former RATP Dev CEO for Great Britain & Ireland.

Announcing its plans on June 6, Proxima said it aims to ‘reinvent the experience for its different customers’ by ‘listening to their needs, and reflecting the changes in consumer behaviour and changing ways of life’ including the growth in remote working, ‘erosion of the business/leisure boundary’ and the demand for better onboard connectivity.

It said its chosen routes have demonstrated strong demand in recent years, with train occupancy at all-time highs as a result of ‘dynamic’ economic and business trends, leisure travel and demographic growth, and it hopes to offer 10 million seats per year.

‘We want to help the French public take the train more, by offering them an alternative solution, which is easy, quick, and integrated into their new lifestyles’, said Picard.


Proxima said it ‘will be fully financed’ by Antin Infrastructure Partners, an energy, environment, digital, transport and social infrastructure investor based in Paris, and supported by a consortium of French and international banks.

The first phase would involve an investment of around €1bn for the purchase and maintenance of rolling stock, launch costs and working capital requirements.

Picard said ’thanks to Antin, we will have all the necessary resources to carry out this exciting project for the benefit of travellers’.

Rolling stock

Proxima has entered into exclusive negotiations with Alstom for the supply and maintenance of 12 Avelia Horizon trainsets, with options for more. It envisages that testing could begin in 2027.

Alstom told Railway Gazette International ‘this announcement confirms the attractiveness of Alstom’s Avelia portfolio on the high-speed market.’

Proxima has also reached an agreement with high speed line infrastructure concessionaire Lisea for the use of a maintenance and stabling depot in Marcheprime, 20 km south of Bordeaux.

Antin Infrastructures Partners Chairman & CEO Alain Rauscher said ‘the great knowledge of the French market brought by Rachel Picard and Tim Jackson, the partnerships concluded with Alstom and Lisea and Antin’s expertise in financing infrastructure projects, are the winning combination that will make Proxima a success.’