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French President Unveils New High-Speed Train

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in front of a life-size replica of the next TGV high-speed train at the Gare de Lyon station, in Paris, Sept.17, 2021.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday celebrated the 40th anniversary of France's Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) — "high-speed train" — system, by unveiling a more efficient and environmentally friendly next-generation train.

During a ceremony at the Gare de Lyon rail station in Paris, Macron hailed the history of the original TGV, inaugurated at the same station by then-French President François Mitterrand.

That first French bullet train first joined Paris to Lyon and then eventually connected the rest of the country, with high-speed tracks now extending to Strasbourg and Bordeaux and trains that travel at speeds of 350 kph. In 2007, a TGV reached a record 574.8 kph, a mark that still stands.

On Friday, Macron dropped the curtain — actually, a large French flag — on the next generation of high-speed train, the TGV M, which the French president described as a "formidable symbol" … which is going to recapture spaces and win back the hearts of the French."

Macron announced a $7.7 billion plan to redevelop and revitalize the TGV network and the state-run rail company SNCF, including new lines serving cities such as Nice and Toulouse, as well as lines serving smaller communities. He said the plan also includes improving rail freight service.

The new, streamlined version of the TGV will carry more passengers — up to 740 passengers from 600 — and move between cities at a top speed of 320 kph while consuming 20% less electricity.

Increasing train use is also part of France's plan to reduce emissions in the country.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and AFP.