LGV Sud Europe Atlantique

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LGV Sud Europe Atlantique
LocaleNouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie,
TerminiTours, France
Bordeaux, France
Opened2 July 2017
Line length340 km (210 mi):
302 km (188 mi) (newly built)
+ 38 km (24 mi) (connection to existing network)
Number of tracksDouble track
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz[1]
Operating speed320 km/h
TGV lines in France, with the LGV Sud Europe Atlantique in ochre.

The LGV Sud Europe Atlantique (LGV SEA), also known as the LGV Sud-Ouest or LGV L'Océane, is a high-speed railway line between Tours and Bordeaux, in France. It is used by TGV trains operated by SNCF, the French national railway company, it is an extension of the LGV Atlantique. The line was inaugurated on 28 February 2017 and entered service on 2 July 2017; the line, which was during the construction the biggest European railway project, was built by the LISEA consortium, which owns and maintains the line until 2061 and charges tolls to train companies.[2]


Project map (English/French)

The LGV SEA brings high-speed rail service to southwestern France and connects the régions of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie with the high-speed rail service of Northern Europe, which connects Paris to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and beyond; the trip between Paris and Bordeaux takes around two hours and ten minutes at a top speed of 320 km/h. The inter-city links between Tours, Poitiers, Angoulême, and Bordeaux are also improved, and southwestern France is better connected to various parts of the country and to the rest of Europe.

The project is also a response to the heavy traffic on the existing rail line. Train tracks are most efficiently used when all trains circulate at the same speed and have identical stops; the large speed difference between the fast TGV trains, which circulated on the existing tracks at speeds up to 220 km/h, and the slower freight trains and TER (regional) trains, which shared the same track, caused the interval between these trains to increase greatly. This congested the tracks and prevented their most efficient usage.

Dedicated tracks for the TGV therefore leave space on the existing tracks for many more freight and TER trains than just the number of removed TGV trains. New regional TER services became possible, and could ease services that are currently crowded; the increase in freight trains on the existing track would ease truck traffic on the roads in the régions, as trains transport more and more goods, easing the impact on the environment as well.

The project was also sold as benefiting the economy; the construction of Phase 1 created 10,000 construction jobs for five years. Jobs in the transport, commerce, and service sectors were created as well. Local businesses may their see competitiveness increase as their markets expand, and tourism to the region may increase as well.

This route supplements – and partly supersedes – the classic Paris–Bordeaux railway line.


The line was built by consortium LISEA consisting of Vinci Concessions [fr] (Vinci SA subsidiary) - 33.4%, Caisse des dépôts et consignations - 25.4%, Meridiam - 22.0% and Ardian - 19.2%. The consortium will operate and maintain the line until 2061, and charges tolls to train companies; the consortium invested €3.8 billion, French government, local authorities and the European Union paid €3 billion and €1 billion was contributed by SNCF Réseau [fr] (subsidiary of SNCF.Another €1.2 billion was spent by SNCF Réseau on the construction of interconnecting lines, control centres, capacity enhancements at Bordeaux and remodelling the track layout at Gare Montparnasse.[2]

The new high-speed route bypasses Libourne, shortening the total distance traveled compared to the existing route. No new train stations were built between Saint-Pierre-des-Corps and Bordeaux, and service to Châtellerault, Poitiers and Angoulême uses their existing train stations, which new connections link to the high-speed rails. South of Poitiers, a connection allows trains to access the old tracks towards La Rochelle.

The journey between Tours and Bordeaux is shortened by around 50 minutes. 302 km of high-speed track was built together with a further 38 km of conventional tracks that connect to the LGV.[3] The new line is expected to increase annual ridership by about five million travellers.


For financial reasons, the project was initially divided into three phases:[citation needed]

Phase 1: AngoulêmeBordeaux[edit]

  • 2001–2003: Pre-project studies and procedures
  • 3 February 2005 – 16 March 2005: Final public hearings
  • Start of 2012: Construction starts
  • 31 July 2017: In service

Phase 2: ToursAngoulême[edit]

  • 2004-2006: Pre-project studies and procedures
  • 2009: Preliminary works and land acquisition
  • Start of 2012: Main construction starts
  • 2 July 2017: In service

In that initial plan, Phase 2 had to be completed on a rapid schedule to cope with the increased in traffic expected after the opening of Phase 1. For this reason the French government announced additional funding in February 2009 to build Phases 1 and 2 together.[4]

Phase 3: Bordeaux – Spanish border[edit]

[citation needed]

  • Proposed, not currently decided.
  • 2004-2005: Preliminary studies
  • 2006: Public debate

On 30 July 2010, the French government announced that work on the section to the Spanish border is expected to begin before 2020.[5] In 2015 however, a public inquiry rejected the construction of this section due to cost.[6]


  • 25 September 1990: Service began on the south-west branch of the LGV Atlantique to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, west of Tours
  • 1 April 1992: Initial proposals for a high-speed link between Saint-Pierre-des-Corps and Bordeaux. Early in its conception, the line was going to be called LGV Aquitaine.
  • 1994–1995: Public debate on the LGV Aquitaine project
  • 1997–1998: Preliminary studies on the Tours to Bordeaux line
  • 2011: A 50-year concession to build and operate the line is awarded to the LISEA consortium.[7]
  • 1st quarter 2012: Construction begins, expected to last 73 months (until 1st quarter 2017)[7]
  • 28 February 2017: Inauguration of the line
  • 2 July 2017: Line opens commercially[8]


  1. ^ "RFF - Map of electrified railway lines" (PDF). Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Presidential inauguration for LGV Sud Europe Atlantique". Railway Gazette.
  3. ^ "RFF selects Vinci to build Tours – Bordeaux LGV". Railway Gazette International. 30 March 2010.
  4. ^ Extra funds will speed up French investment , Railway Gazette International 2009-02-04
  5. ^ "SNIT makes rail a priority". Railway Gazette International. 30 July 2010.
  6. ^ "France rejects TGV extension plans - which could be bad news for". The Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Tours – Bordeaux concession signed". Railway Gazette International. 17 June 2011.
  8. ^ "Ouverture de la LGV: "Je suis venu passer la journée à Bordeaux", témoigne un Parisien". www.20minutes.fr (in French). Retrieved 2 July 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°05′23″N 0°07′30″E / 46.0896°N 0.1250°E / 46.0896; 0.1250