Sunday, December 13, 2009


The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, French for 'high-speed train') is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by VFE, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator. It was developed during the 1970s by GEC-Alsthom and SNCF, and is now operated primarily by SNCF. Although originally designed to be powered by gas turbines, the TGV prototypes evolved into electric trains. Following the inaugural TGV service between Paris and Lyon in 1981, the TGV network, centred on Paris, has expanded to connect cities across France and in adjacent countries. A TGV test train set the record for the fastest wheeled train, reaching 574.8 km/h (357 mph) on 3 April 2007,[1] and a TGV service holds the record for the fastest scheduled rail journey with a start to stop average speed of 279.4 km/h.[2]

The success of the first line led to an expansion of the network, with new lines built in the south, west, north and east of the country. Eager to emulate the success of the French network, neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany built their own high-speed lines. TGVs link with Switzerland through the French network, with Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands through the Thalys network, and the Eurostar network links France and Belgium with the United Kingdom. Several lines are planned, including extensions within France and to surrounding countries. Towns such as Tours have become a part of a "TGV commuter belt".

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