France's grand high-speed train expansion slides off the rails


The high-speed train, or TGV, is one of France’s major engineering success stories of the past three decades, revolutionizing transport in a country with largest surface area in Western Europe. Two years ago, a vast, ambitious plan was announced to extend the high-speed train network with 14 new lines in a north-south, east-west grid inter-linking most major French cities and regions. But now France’s new socialist government, battling a huge public deficit, has decided to pull the plug on a project it describes as “a headline-grabbing announcement” that was one of “a multitude of projects conceived without the beginning of the least financing”.  

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An ambitious and costly plan to extend France’s high-speed train network with 14 new lines is to be severely scaled down after the project, described by France's national audit office as economically unviable, became one of the first major targets of the new socialist government’s drive to rein in public spending.