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Popular Rail Policies

Perhaps less fashionable post-Brexit, but still valuable: comparisons with our near-neighbours of comparable size.

Across Europe, rail revenues have fallen during the pandemic and – just as in the UK – there is every reason to try to win back custom.

Perhaps most eye-catching is this: for 9 euros, ( just £7.67p) you can travel throughout Germany on local/regional trains and buses, trams and metros for a whole month in June, July or August. Some worry that this will create a customer reaction when full fares return in September, and long distance rail (including on Germany’s high-speed ICE trains) is not included. But it is appealing and impressive, especially as the entire national ticketing systems have had to be uniformly modified in short order.

And looking ahead… from 2030, it will be realistic to travel by high-speed train from the UK to key Mediterranean resorts.

For this we need to thank decision-makers in France. Here newly re-elected President Macron has called for the 2020s to be a decade for TGV . Public Corporations were given the go-ahead to finance three new high-speed lines in March 2022. The new high-speed lines and associated investment are for:

  • Bordeaux-Toulouse
  • Marseilles-Nice
  • Montpellier-Perpignan.

In each case, construction will start in 2023/4. The new infrastructure could be of great value for longer high-speed rail journeys from St Pancras, bringing the key holiday destinations of Nice and Barcelona within reach – see our report on the scope this offers to reduce the need for carbon-intensive flying to these destinations. Thanks goodness there was the resolve back in the 1990s to get HS1 (London-Channel Tunnel) built.

Don’t think that in France, the planning and consultation stages for these major projects have been skimped. Just as with our own HS2, sometimes changes have to be made. The first plans for Marseilles-Nice, for example, were made 40 years ago and the new plan is very different from the original.

Still, it will be an astonishing 50 years after the first TGV line in France (Paris-Lyon) was opened that HS2 is due to come on-stream.