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New UK air route, Paris-Berlin TGV: Eight France travel updates

French airports work on cutting emissions, construction of a new greener ferry starts and a study is commissioned to review a potential Bordeaux metro

We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week Pic: M.J.J. de Vaan / Leonid Andronov / TMP - An Instant of Time / JeanLucIchard / Shutterstock

We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week. 

Will SNCF cancel trains this winter to save energy? 

The government has asked SNCF to reduce its energy consumption this winter, but not to cut down on services, despite a report published in Le Parisien suggesting that timetables may have to change in the case of energy shortages.

The government said that reducing the number of trains running would only be “a last resort”. 

Transport Minister Clément Beaune and Ecological Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher asked the rail operator in July to cut its energy consumption so as to contribute to an overall reduction of 10% across the country.

SNCF has its own “emergency contingency plans in the case of a serious problem” such as a lack of energy supply, “but this is distinct from the energy saving measures and does not correspond to a specific governmental order,” the transport ministry said.

SNCF consumes between 1% and 2% of France’s electricity usage, the equivalent to the cities of Paris and Marseille combined. 

Transport expert Arnaud Aymé has told Franceinfo that there are other ways to save energy other than taking services out of the timetable.

“We can think about reducing the amount of energy consumed in heating stations, in heating industrial buildings – of which there are many – or even by dimming lights.” 

Drivers can also use a special tablet device to make braking and acceleration smoother.

Flybe to launch seasonal Birmingham-Geneva route 

Flybe has announced that it will be launching a winter route between Birmingham and Geneva in December. 

Services will be available from December 17 until March 25, with two flights per week. 

EasyJet and Jet2 also offer services on this route. 

Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger said: “We are delighted to reinforce our network by adding this fantastic destination to our winter programme.”

Flybe closed down in March 2020 before being bought in April 2021 and beginning operations again in April this year.

Paris-Berlin TGV confirmed for 2023 

The new direct TGV train service between Paris and Berlin will begin running in December 2023, SNCF and Deutsche Bahn have announced. 

Read more: New TGV will allow travel from Paris to Berlin in seven hours

The journey will take around seven hours. 

SNCF’s CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou has said that the service “makes sense because we are observing that people are accepting [the idea of] making longer and longer journeys. 

“There really are people who are prepared to sit five, six or seven hours on a train.

“A few years ago [people] found that too long and we were worried that we would have no one [on the trains]. There are more and more people now for whom this does not pose a problem, which is good!”

Read also: Planes, trains, cost, carbon - how do you travel to and from France?

SNCF and Deutsche Bahn are planning a test of the route running via Frankfurt, using German high-speed trains.

If successful, a second test will take place using French trains. 

This project comes alongside the Paris-Berlin night train scheme, which is also set to begin in 2023.

No more Transavia flights between Orly and Brest this winter

Low-cost airline Transavia will not be offering flights between Paris-Orly and Brest this winter. 

The airline has been operating the route since March 2021, with up to two daily flights, but it does not appear on the timetable after October 30.

Transavia has said that it took the decision because of the “lack of profitability of the route, which has an occupancy rate of less than 30%”. 

People who usually use this service will still be able to travel with Air France between Brest and Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are normally several flights per day on this route.

This comes as EasyJet announces the opening of a new winter route between Paris-Beauvais and Lisbon. 

Lyon Airports accelerates eco-friendly projects 

Lyon’s two airports have introduced new measures aimed at reducing their carbon emissions, including the planting of 3.7 hectares of trees in the Forêt départementale de la Pyramide (Rhône). 

“This carbon sink will contribute to trapping residual emissions from the Lyon airports,” Aéroports de Lyon said.

Last year, the group created another carbon sink of 3.6 hectares in the Cantinière forest. 

It has also signed a new partnership agreement with the Rhône Chamber of Agriculture to “develop greenhouse gas emission trapping schemes locally.” 

Aéoports de Lyon manages both Lyon-Bron and Lyon-Saint Exupéry, which are aiming to become the first French airports to achieve zero net CO2 emissions by 2026.

They have already cut emissions in half since 2016 thanks to increased usage of green energies and biogas for heating in the terminal buildings.

New study into a potential Bordeaux metro system

Bordeaux’s city hall has commissioned a new study into the possibility of creating a metro system to serve the urban area. 

The study, which will be launched at the end of the year, will examine the cost, viability and potential carbon footprint of such a project, with the results being published in 2023.

The news was announced by Clément Rossignol-Puech – the city council’s vice president in charge of transports – who wrote a letter to Métro de Bordeaux, an association which has been campaigning since 2018 for the construction of a metro network in the city.

The organisation said that the message came as “a real surprise”. 

A first study into the possibility of a metro service in 2019 judged the project to be “doable, viable and relevant”, but the idea was later shelved because the cost was deemed too great. 

Métro de Bordeaux has estimated that the construction works would cost €1.4billion.

“We hope that the results of this study, if they are positive and incontestable – most notably in terms of carbon emissions – will make elected officials aware of their responsibilities.” 

Production begins on new Brittany Ferries ship 

The first steel for Brittany Ferries’ new Portsmouth-St Malo ship was cut this week, in the first stage of the replacement of the company’s oldest ship, Bretagne. 

The new ship will be called Saint-Malo, and will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and batteries, making it hybrid. 

After development work has been carried out in Portsmouth and St Malo, the ship will be emission-free while plugged into a power connection. It will also be able to sail on battery power, switching to LNG when this power supply is depleted.

Saint-Malo is the third LNG-fuelled ferry to form part of the Brittany Ferries fleet, and a fourth will be constructed to replace the Normandie on the Portsmouth-Caen route from 2025.

Read more: ‘Zero particulate’ ferry begins sailing between Marseille and Corsica

A record 54,500 pets travel through Eurotunnel in August

The number of pets travelling through Eurotunnel hit a record high of 54,501 in August, making for a summer total of 98,000.

Since 2000, some 3.7 million pets have travelled on board the Le Shuttle service. Eurotunnel is likely to be an attractive option for families travelling across the Channel because their pets can stay with them throughout the journey. 

Eurotunnel charges £22 each way for pets, including dogs, cats and ferrets. 

Rabbits, rodents, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles can also travel as long as they have a veterinary certificate.

When travelling from the UK to the EU with a pet, it is necessary to have either an animal health certificate or an EU pet passport if you are resident in the bloc or able to stay for more than three months.

Read more: Can I get rabies vaccine in UK for EU pet passport issued in France?

Read more: France travel: what are the rules for flying with a pet?

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