London-Bordeaux by train in less than five hours as HS1 targets international expansion

Direct high-speed international trains will cut journey times

Route proposed by four international railway operators as a turnkey route for a new or existing international train operator

London 30th April 2018:  Passengers will be able to travel from London to Bordeaux in less than five hours on direct high-speed international trains under plans proposed by rail operators along the route.

At present, rail travellers to Bordeaux have to change trains in Paris. The current Paris route takes 5H 25m with a 1h 05m connection in Paris when travelling from London to Bordeaux. The current return connection in Paris is longer at 1h 55m owing to the need to pass through border and security controls.

The direct service will cut journey times through a direct route and security controls located in Bordeaux. This will allow a future train operator to take on low cost airlines which currently fly 1.2m passengers per year[1] between the two. High-speed international trains will reach speeds of up to 200mph between the two cities.

HS1 Ltd, the owner and operator of High Speed 1 is in advanced planning with three other international railway operators along the proposed route. In a first for the UK, the railway operators are working on pre-planned and agreed timetable slots and train routes, meaning that a new international train operator will be able to get the route up and running in a couple of years.

The proposed route bypasses Paris and takes advantage of a newly completed 302km French high-speed rail line linking Tours with Bordeaux. The new service will be direct, with no need to change trains and will offer a less than five hour journey time. This compares to a current London to Bordeaux journey of 5h 25m and Bordeaux to London of 6h 26m.

Dyan Crowther, Chief Executive of HS1 Ltd, said: “As we’ve seen with the recent introduction of the Eurostar London-Amsterdam service, there’s a real demand for international train services to provide a comfortable and better-connected service, especially for leisure journeys.

“This is the first time that railway operators have collaborated in this way and saves the train operator having to do a lot of legwork. The route is almost ready for a train operator to turn up and turn the key as soon as the UK and French Governments agree on border controls. With the right commitment, we could be looking at new services in the next couple of years. The service will take passengers direct from city centre to city centre, taking the hassle out of travel to South West France.”

The four railway operators along the proposed route, HS1 Ltd, Lisea, Eurotunnel and SNCF Réseau me in Bordeux on the 25th April 2018 to discuss developing Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean to facilitate international departures. Also identified are potential departure slots, cooperation with authorities and train paths. The proposed route is being discussed with train operators as closer to a turnkey project, providing a much faster start-up time than previous international routes.

The proposed route from London to Bordeaux comes as HS1 Ltd is developing a whole new range of international direct destinations. The Company is in discussions with operators to destinations including Frankfurt and Geneva. HS1 Ltd has appointed a new market development lead, Edmund Butcher to develop new route opportunities.


[1] Eurostat 2016 arrivals and departures to/from the United Kingdom with airports in South West France.