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TGV plans shunted into a siding

Government says many projects in €260bn programme will be sidelined as part of austerity measures

PLANS for more high-speed rail lines have been halted as part of the government's austerity measures.

Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac said that since the 2007 environmental Grenelle agreement the previous government had agreed the construction of 14 TGV lines of 2,000km by 2020 at a value of €260billion but had not put financing in place.

He said they had "planned a multitude of projects without having the slightest beginning of the beginning of the financing. This government will have no choice but to give up some options."

In all, 10 projects will be re-examined and Cahuzac said a committee would decide the order of priorities for the routes and report back by the end of the year. Lines which cost a lot but which did not significantly cut journey times or increase passenger numbers would be targeted for completion at a later date.

The line most in danger is the continuation of the TGV from Marseille to Nice which would cost €15bn but would not produce significant time savings to Paris to compete with air travel.

Other lines to be re-examined include the planned Lyon-Turin TGV line which would cost €12bn, two extensions from Bordeaux to Toulouse and Hendaye, the Paris-Orleans-Clermont-Lyon line, the extension from Rennes to Quimper or Brest and the link from Poitiers to Limoges.

The completion of the final 50km section of the TGV Rhin-Rhône link could also be halted as it will cost €1bn but will not make any significant time saving.

However, four projects that are already at an advanced stage with signed contracts will not be affected: Tours-Bordeaux, Metz-Nancy, Le Mans-Rennes and Nîmes-Montpellier.

The proposed CDG Express train from Gare de l'Est in Paris to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport is also likely to go ahead as it will be profitable enough to recoup the €1bn cost.

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