Low-cost Ouigo TGV debuts services to south of France

Ouigo trains will now run from the Gare de Lyon towards the south of France three times a day

Ouigo, the low-cost TGV (train à grande vitesse) service, is now running services from the Gare de Lyon in Paris to Marseille and the Côte d’Azur from today (Sunday December 9).

There are now three return journeys per day from Paris to Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Valence, and Nice (with stops at Toulon, Cannes, and Antibes).

There are also three return services per day between Marseille and Lille-Flandres.

Tickets for the low-cost seats in winter and spring have been on sale since October 11.

Paris Gare de Lyon is one of the six mainline stations in the capital. It will be the third in the city to welcome Ouigo services, after Montparnasse in December 2017, and Gare de l’Est in July this year.

The move comes five years after Ouigo was first launched by SNCF as a low-cost, low-frills alternative to TGV travel. It offers similar journey times but reduced services and fewer extras on-board, as well as different rules for baggage allowance and station transfers.

It initially connected Marne-la-Vallee, Marseille and Montpellier, but has now directly served Paris for several months.

The service was launched to bring new customers to SNCF and the TGV lines, and give those who would otherwise not travel by high-speed train, the chance to do so, according to SNCF.

Its figures suggest that over 33 million people have now used the Ouigo service in the past five years, with 65% of them paying less than €25 for their ticket.

SNCF has predicted that over 12 million people will have used Ouigo by the end of this year, and it is aiming for 26 million people to use it in 2020 - a figure that will represent a quarter of TGV traffic.

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