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Back when the Rhine-Rhône high speed TGV line (in French: LGV Rhin-Rhône) was being planned it was described that “In contrast to France’s other high speed lines — apart from the bypass round the east of Paris — LGV Rhin-Rhône was conceived primarily as an inter-regional route and not as a high speed link from the provinces to the capitalby Railway Gazette.

The thing is that – in my experience – this line is not actually completing that task very well at all. I am trying to plan a Berlin – (Mannheim) – Béziers rail trip this summer, and the only decent connection going southbound takes me via Paris Est along the LGV Est instead (details here).

So how then is the LGV Rhin-Rhône doing as a non-Paris connected TGV line? These are the only 8 trains that use it towards southern France for my test day, 21st April 2015. Trains marked * are international.

TGV 6886 – Basel SBB-Marseille*
TGV 6839 TGV 6841 – Strasbourg-Montpellier
TGV 6835 TGV 6837 TGV 6826 – Strasbourg-Marseille
TGV 6849 – Strasbourg-Lyon
TGV 9580 – Frankfurt (Main)-Marseille*

The connections with Germany are especially poor – this is just one daily through service. The connections to Stuttgart, Nice and Barcelona that Railway Gazette hopes for have of course not materialised.

Using the LGV Rhin-Rhône towards Paris – it’s a lot better! 16 trains a day! Mulhouse is especially well served, with 12 services a day to Paris Gare de Lyon.

TGV 6700 TGV 6704 TGV 6706 TGV 6708 – Mulhouse-Paris
TGV 6745 TGV 6749 TGV 6765  – Besançon Viotte-Paris (uses only part of the LGV Rhin-Rhône)
TGV 5152 – Mulhouse-Lille (via Paris Airport CDG)
TGV 9588 – Freiburg (Breisgau)-Paris*
TGV 6886 – Basel SBB-Paris*
TGV 9206 TGV 9210 TGV 9218 TGV 9222 TGV 9226 TGV 9230 – Zürich-Paris*

So this is French railways again behaving as they always do – it is always all about Paris. Everything else is secondary.

(some numbers amended since initially publishing this, thanks to assistance from Twitter – the main point stands though!)

One Comment

  1. alain dumas

    Nice work but your conclusion is unwarranted. The Lyon-Strasbourg TGVs gets some 25% occupancy, i.e. loses money, when around 75% of the seats are occupied on the average TGV nationwide. The SNCF is sending more trains to Paris because of the demand. SNCF is not blameless. It is only ordering double-deck TGV of high capacity while the still very reliable first generation ones are sent to the wreckers. It could have removed a few cars to make low capacity HST, lower the tolls for such trains on the Rhin-Rhone and other places where slots are still available on the LGV and run a more frequent and useful regional service. SNCF is expanding the even higher capacity, 100% 2nd class, low cost, long distance Ouigo service. Shorter trains run on local services over the British HS1 and the HSL Zuid but the SNCF does not seem interested.
    By the way, trains to Besancon-Viotte are meant to serve Dole and do not use the LGV at all.

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