FRANCE’S rail regulator ART has published details received from French National Railways (SNCF) of new open-access long-distance passenger services under the Oslo project.

The plans show that the first trains would operate from Paris to Lyon and Nantes, with both routes having three trains a day. Departures will be in the morning, around lunchtime and the evening.

Trains to Lyon Perrache will depart from Paris Bercy calling at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges (one train will run from Paris Austerlitz calling at Juvisy), Melun, Dijon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Lyon Vaise. Of the trains to Nantes, two will stop at Juvisy, Les Aubrais (for Orléans), Blois, Saint Pierre-des-Corps (Tours), Saumur and Angers, while one train will serve Juvisy, Massy-Palaiseau, Versailles Chantiers, Chartres, Le Mans and Angers.

Trains will be formed of 160km/h class BB 22200 electric locomotives (or similar) and haul Corail coaches offering between 500 and 800 seats depending on demand.

SNCF will initially need to refurbish around 40 Corail coaches which date from the 1970-80s. The company is currently withdrawing many of these vehicles, and the locomotives which haul them, as they have been or are being replaced by new EMUs on the Paris - Cherbourg, Paris - Le Havre and Paris  Orléans - Tours routes.

It remains to be seen what the reaction will be from other candidates who may wish launch similar open-access services in France. SNCF can transfer rolling stock “in house” without disclosing costs but has been unwilling to sell its unwanted withdrawn trains to other operators in the past, except for DMUs, which have been exported to Romania.