"Our main problem today is congestion," Pepy told delegate at the UIC 8th World Congress on High Speed Rail, Philadelphia. "We operate 280 trains a day between Paris and Lyon. We have tried to avoid building a second line by operating double-deck trains, having very long operating hours, and by building new stations, but a new line is now a necessity."

Pepy suggests a new line could be built as using the public-private partnership structure adopted by the French government for TGV Sud Europe Atlantique and the Nimes-Montpelier bypass.

He also stressed that high-speed rail in France is profitable. "The Ebita of the high-speed network is above 12%, although we have some way to go to achieve our goal of 20%," he says. "We pay 100% of operating and maintenance costs and 70% of infrastructure costs with the state paying the rest. Thanks to our excellent yield management system we have a load factor of 83%, which is comparable with the low-cost airlines."