Keith Ludeman, chairman of the English company High Speed 1, is in Bordeaux on Monday to meet the elected officials of Bordeaux,LA Tribune has reported.
The newspaper reported that the disclosure came in defence of plan for the creation of a direct rail line between the station Saint-Jean and that of Saint-Pancras, in London, in less than 5 hours. HS1 is taking the project to a consortium composed of three other infrastructure managers: Lisea, SNCF Réseau and Eurotunnel.
From the start, Keith Ludeman fits things: member of the HS1 board, he is in Bordeaux on Monday to represent the English company, manager of the high-speed railway between the Channel Tunnel and London, and meet two elected representatives in particular: Nicolas Florian, Mayor of Bordeaux and Alain Rousset, President of the Regional Council of New Aquitaine. Its objective: “To convince them of the interest of a rail link in less than 5 hours between Bordeaux and London and to invite them to support the project.”
On this subject, HS1 is working with three other infrastructure operators: Lisea, which operates between Bordeaux and Tours, SNCF Réseau and Eurotunnel. The idea is to offer transport companies that will be able to commercially exploit this new high-speed line based on infrastructure (train paths, railway vocabulary) already existing. All bypassing Paris, and using the Channel Tunnel. “The feasibility study is underway and we are waiting for its results for the end of spring,” says Edmund Butcher, Head of HS1 Development.
Keith Ludeman notes that “a quarter of the English nationals living in France live in New Aquitaine”. And that of the thousands of people who take the Bordeaux – London airlines every year (490,000 passengers by combining the London airports of Gatwick, Luton and Stansted), “20% can be convinced to take the train if they are offered a route under We are sure that the market exists, especially since France is the 2nd destination for the British. “
HS1 and its partners establish 1.2 million annual air travelers between the New Aquitaine region (six airports) and the South East England region (five airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Southampton) .
For travelers, go to the airport of departure, make the flight of one hour and thirty, finally reach the city center of its destination actually takes time, not to mention the constraint of luggage, frightfully expensive among companies low cost airlines. The project partners are betting on these aspects, among other things, to convince.
Beyond the approval, Keith Ludeman also puts forward the favorable carbon footprint of the train compared to the plane. In his pocket, an additional argument he is about to present to the elected officials of Bordeaux: “This type of railway line, unlike an airline, is much more durable in time given the investments made.”
In terms of investments, we will not know much more for the moment. The largest load will be supported by the rail operator who chooses to operate the line, which will have to buy or rent the rolling stock.
Edmund Butcher suggests that Siemens trains already using the Channel Tunnel would be a logical solution. It will take 18 months to two years between ordering and delivery which automatically sets the potential calendar to 2021 at best, 2022 more likely. Obviously, several rail companies have come to the news but HS1 will not say more: “We talk with the market.”
Create a border post in Bordeaux
If HS1 is in Bordeaux this Monday to meet the elected, it’s mostly for technical issues. London side, everything is fine but the station Saint-Jean, in Bordeaux, is not equipped to handle certain aspects. Britain and France have, to date, a single rail border control system. This means, in practice, that passports are checked by both authorities at the time of departure. On arrival, no verification: passengers simply get off the train.
Creating a new control therefore requires physical adaptations for borders and security. It is therefore necessary, on the French side, to find a real estate hold to install these checkpoints surrounded by fences. “It’s like setting up the British border in Bordeaux,” smiles Keith Ludeman, who assures that the French border police and customs are “ready to create this possibility” which must still be validated by the Ministry of the Interior. With this “OK of principle”, the consortium of four partners meets every quarter to advance the file, also waiting for the outcome of the feasibility study. As for the potential impact of Brexit, Keith Ludeman sweeps the subject: “This does not worry us in any way, it will not interfere with border control issues.”
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