Over the next 12 months segments of high speed line are set to open in six countries across Western Europe, reports Murray Hughes. France will launch 320 km/h services on TGV Est next June, and the French government has committed to add 900 km to the TGV network over the next 10 years

THIS MONTH Spain commissions two more key links in its rapidly-expanding AVE network. No country is building high speed lines faster than Spain (p778), making the start of high speed services on the first part of the Córdoba - Málaga line and on another section of the Madrid - Barcelona line a fitting prelude to 2007 when segments of high speed line will open in five other countries.

SNCF in France is gearing up to launch 320 km/h operations over TGV Est in June, forecasting a spectacular 40% increase in traffic after 12 months. Construction has already begun on TGV Rhine-Rhône, which forms a strategic link in Europe's high speed network that will attract traffic from southern Germany and eastern Switzerland. In the longer term, the French government seems committed to further expansion of the TGV network, although it remains to be seen if the proposed concession formula for an extension from TGV Atlantique towards Bordeaux will succeed.

Before the year closes Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy all plan to commission sections of new line. In the UK completion of Section 2 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link promises to put London on Europe's high speed map, but there are no firm plans to extend the line further north. In Germany, where 300 km/h services were launched between Nürnberg and Ingolstadt last May, plans for a new line from Stuttgart to Ulm have been given fresh impetus.

There seems little doubt that high speed rail will move up the political agenda across Europe, particularly in the wake of Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the economics of climate change published by the UK government on October 30. Growth in short-haul air travel is widely regarded as unsustainable, while added airport security measures make it an increasingly tedious experience. Eurostar enjoyed a taste of what this means last August when the sudden tightening of security procedures at UK airports prompted 'thousands of passengers' to abandon air for high speed rail through the Channel Tunnel. Of special interest were those who elected to take Eurostar as part of a longer rail journey from London to destinations well beyond the operator's terminals in the French and Belgian capitals. This was one reason why Eurostar was able to report in October that a record 2·15 million passengers had patronised its services in the July to September quarter, with ticket sales up 21% over 2005 and the business segment up 27%.

Eurostar believes that it has retained some of this traffic for the long term, and there is every reason to believe that the company will record further growth during 2007.

  • CAPTION: National speed records have been tumbling during acceptance trials of the fleet of 16 Class 103 trainsets that Siemens is supplying to Renfe. Designed to operate at up to 350 km/h in commercial service, the Class 103 has attained 404 km/h while on test between Madrid and Lleida
  • CAPTION: The opening of DB's Nürnberg - Ingolstadt high speed line brings cuts in journey times of up to 30 min on long-distance north-south routes, with ICE trains making use of the 300 km/h alignmentPhoto: DB AG/Weber

La vague de construction ajoute des lignes à grande vitesse dans six états

Dans six pays à travers l'Europe de l'ouest, des sections de lignes à grande vitesse sont prêtes pour la mise en service au cours des 12 prochains mois. Ce mois-ci, deux sections vont être ajoutées au réseau espagnol AVE à croissance rapide et l'exploitation à 320 km/h sur le TGV Est commencera en juin. Avant la fin de l'année prochaine, la Belgique, les Pays-Bas et l'Italie ouvriront des lignes nouvelles et l'achèvement de la Section 2 du Channel Tunnel Rail Link mettra en définitive London sur la carte de la grande vitesse européenne. En regardant plus loin, le gouvernement français s'est engagé à ajouter 900 km de lignes TGV supplémentaires au cours des 10 prochaines années, la première partie du TGV Rhin-Rhône étant déjà en construction. En Allemagne, où des services à 300 km/h ont été lancés en mai dernier entre Nürnberg et Ingolstadt, des projets pour une nouvelle ligne entre Stuttgart et Ulm ont reçu une nouvelle impulsion

Bauboom bringt Hochgeschwindigkeits-strecken in sechs Ländern

In den nächsten 12 Monaten werden Abschnitte neuer Hochgeschwindigkeits-strecken in sechs westeuropäischen Ländern eröffnet. Zwei Abschnitte kommen diesen Monat zum schnell wachsenden AVE-Netz in Spanien hinzu, und der Betrieb mit 320 km/h auf der TGV Est Strecke beginnt im Juni. Bevor das nächste Jahr zu Ende geht, planen Belgien, die Niederlande und Italien neue Strecken in Betrieb zu nehmen, und der Abschluss von Abschnitt 2 des britischen Channel Tunnel Rail Link wird endlich London auf die europäische Hochgeschwindigkeitskarte bringen. Weiter in der Zukunft hat die französische Regierung vor, in den nächsten 10 Jahren weitere 900 km an TGV-Strecken hinzuzufügen, wobei das erste Teilstück des TGV Rhin-Rhône bereits im Bau ist. In Deutschland, wo seit Mai mit 300 km/h zwischen Nürnberg und Ingolstadt gefahren wird, erhalten die Pläne für eine neue Strecke zwischen Stuttgart und Ulm neuen Auftrieb

La ola de construcciones aumenta el número de líneas de alta velocidad en seis estados

Durante los próximos 12 meses, se van a abrir segmentos de líneas de alta velocidad en seis países de toda Europa Occidental. En España se van a añadir este mes dos secciones en la red AVE, que crece a gran velocidad, y en junio comenzarán las operaciones en el TGV Est a los 320 km/h. Antes de que finalice el año próximo, Bélgica, los Países Bajos e Italia planean poner en servicio nuevas líneas y la finalización de la segunda sección del Channel Tunnel Rail Link colocará definitivamente a London en la red europea de alta velocidad. Pensando en el futuro, el gobierno francés se ha comprometido a añadir 900 km de líneas TGV en los próximos 10 años, cuando la primera parte del TGV Rhin-Rhône ya está en construcción. En Alemania, donde el pasado mayo comenzaron los servicios a 300 km/h entre Nürnberg y Ingolstadt, se ha dado un nuevo impulso a los planes para una nueva línea entre Stuttgart y Ulm