Bordeaux St Jean station (Photo: Skitterphoto/Pixabay)

FRANCE: Three factors have led Le Train to postpone the launch of its planned open access high speed services in southwest France from mid-2023 until early 2024, Managing Director Alain Gétraud has told Railway Gazette International.

Le Train was established in February 2020 by industrialist Tony Bonifaci with the aim of becoming the first private high speed operator in France. Last year it applied to regulator ART for powers to run Arcachon – Bordeaux – Angoulême – Poitiers – La Rochelle regional high speed services using LGV Sud-Europe Atlantique, with some services extending to Nantes and Rennes.

Getraud, a former Director of Major Projects for SNCF Réseau in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine région, said the first problem the company has faced is the difficulty of accessing second-hand rolling stock or buying new trains.

The second issue is signalling equipment, with the limited deployment of ETCS in France meaning trains must be fitted with the national KVB and TVM systems, which Gétraud said creates a monopoly for the acquisition of components.

The third issue is assessing maintenance and stabling facilities, especially for services which will not run to Paris.

Gétraud said he is confident of a launch in 2024 with second-hand rolling stock. A major European railway company is also expected to become a shareholder in Le Train, which he said would help with development and also accelerate the acquisition of new trains.