CONFIRMATION that the French are hoping to exceed the 515?3 km/h world speed record set up on May 18 1990 by TGV set 325 came on December 14 with a statement by the Ministry of Transport.Followed on December 18 by a media presentation about the future development of high speed services in France, the announcement simply said that ’the aim is to beat the current record before commercial services start [on TGV Est] on June 10’. This constrasted with earlier wild press reports about a train that would reach 600?km/h.Any figure over 515?3 km/h would serve to demonstrate again the huge technical and safety margin that exists with commercial operations in the range of 300 to 350 km/h. This will prove important as future markets for high speed rail develop, and French determination to push the technical frontiers further - perhaps with an eye to export orders - was confirmed by the announcement of plans for a programme of technical research ’dedicated to French Excellence in High Speed Railways’. Significantly, the proposals handed to Transport Minister Dominique Perben by SNCF President Anne-Marie Idrac, RFF President Michel Boyon and Head of Alstom Transport Philippe Mellier included draft plans for development of high speed services in 2020-50.We understand, meanwhile, that an 80?km section of TGV Est between Pr?ny and the Meuse TGV parkway station is being fettled up for a record attempt in February or March.