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Capacity crunch on TGV Sud-Est

01 Apr 2002

FRENCH National Railways is considering options to expand capacity on its pioneering high speed line between Paris and Lyon. Development Director Michel Leboeuf told delegates that since the Paris - Sud-Est line opened in 1981, the 'awesome' effort of developing over 1000 km of high speed line had boosted SNCF's long-distance traffic by over 50%.

'Network effects' are now seeing traffic growing much faster than the length of new line. Provisional figures for the first six months following the opening of TGV Méditerranée in June 2001 suggested that SNCF had boosted its market share from 40 to 60%. Air traffic from Paris to Marseille, Toulon and Montpellier was down by 25%, 25% and 20% respectively, of which perhaps half was due to TGV Med and half to September 11.

This continued growth has put pressure on the original line, where almost all paths are now occupied. Among the options for capacity expansion, Leboeuf pointed out that they had already gone down the double-deck route with TGV Duplex, although there may be scope to add extra seats with double-deck power cars.

A more radical solution being investigated is to quadruple the line, or build a parallel double-track serving a different set of intermediate stations. In the shorter term, replacing the present cab signalling by ERTMS Level 2 is under consideration, as this could provide up to 25% more capacity.