Slow-speed dynamic testing began in early July and high-speed testing commenced with 160km/h runs in both directions using a TGV Duplex set provided by French National Railways (SNCF). Speeds will be increased incrementally in the coming weeks and testing will be extended to the northern and southern sections of the line when the catenary is energised in September.
The Lisea consortium of Vinci (33.4%) Caisee des Dépôts/CDC Infrastructure (25.4%), Sojas (22%), and AXA Private Equity (19.2%) was awarded a 50-year €7.8bn concession in 2011 to fund, design, build, operate and maintain the line in a deal which was described at the time as Europe's largest-ever PPP contract.
When it opens on July 2 2017, the line will cut Paris - Bordeaux journey times from 3h 14min to 2h 4min. The Paris - Toulouse trip will also be reduced by more than an hour from 5h 25min to 4h 9min.
SNCF expects ridership between Paris and Bordeaux to reach 2.3 million by 2019. The first of a new fleet of 40 Alstom Euroduplex Atlantique double-deck trains is due to be delivered soon and these trains will replace single-deck TGV Atlantique sets on services from Paris to destinations in Western and southwestern France.