From Air France To ‘Train France’?


Train fares and journey times to Europe could be slashed if Air France goes through with plans for a high-speed rail service to compete with Eurostar.

The airline has announced its intention to challenge Eurostar, whose monopoly comes to an end at the start of 2010, when new EU rail laws come into force.

Air France said: “It would seem logical to replace some air transport services with a rail transport solution so that we can continue to provide our customers with a global offer, meeting both their short-distance and intercontinental travel needs.

“Air France and Veolia Transport are looking into the possibility of concluding a strategic partnership to create a new high-speed rail player on the European scene.”

The carrier said its plans were in their early stages and that it had not yet worked out which routes it might run.

It denied newspaper reports that it boasted it could cut the current journey time from London to Paris to less than two hours by introducing a new generation of high speed trains.

Eurostar said it welcomed competition and that interest from airlines was inevitable.

Airlines have been affected by the recent economic downturn and spiralling oil prices.

Passengers have been seeking alternatives to short-haul flights and Eurostar has benefited – seeing its passenger numbers jump 18% for the first half of this year.