Those attending the presentation included Mr Nicolas Florian, mayor of Bordeaux and vice-president of Greater Bordeaux, Mr Alain Rousset, president of Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, and Mr Hervé Le Caignec, president of Lisea, the concessionaire of the 302km Tours - Bordeaux Sud-Europ Aquitaine high-speed line.

The presentation follows the agreement last year that the four infrastructure managers along the route - HS1 (which owns the line from London to the Channel Tunnel) Eurotunnel, SNCF Network, and Lisea - will work together to find an operator for the new service. HS1 says a number of potential operators have since expressed interest.

Traffic potential

HS1 says more than 1 million people fly between Britain and southwest France each year and estimates that a direct train service would carry up to 200,000 passengers per annum.

“The prospect of travel between the centre of London and Bordeaux in less than five hours brings southwest France within easy reach for business travellers and holidaymakers,” says Ludeman. “France is the second most popular holiday destination for Brits abroad. This is on top of the one in four British citizens in France that live there so the commercial incentive to open up this route is clear.”

Route for the proposed London - Bordeaux high-speed service.

A secure platform with immigration, customs, and security facilities would need to be provided at Bordeaux St Jean station for passengers travelling to Britain. The operator would also need to procure 320km/h trains designed to meet the stringent fire-safety and passenger evacuation requirements for travelling through the Channel Tunnel.

HS1 says it is also looking at potential services to link London with Frankfurt and Geneva.