France inaugurated two new high-speed rail lines on Saturday July 1, linking the capital to the western cities of Bordeaux and Rennes. The state-owned SNCF railway operator expects 35,000 passengers to use the new route to Bordeaux daily and 30,000 to use the line to Rennes.
Nearly eight billion euros (7.02 billion pounds) were invested in the stretch to Bordeaux while 3.4 billion euros went into the Rennes line, both under public-private partnerships, SNCF said.
A 60-kilometre (37-mile) high-speed stretch is due to open at the end of the year in the south of France.
The line to Bordeaux, which links up with existing high-speed rail lines in the central city of Tours, was financed under a unique public-private partnership that will see a consortium led by construction group Vinci operate it under concession for 50 years. However, the price of usage has left the SNCF concerned and its president Guillaume Pepy told Le Monde newspaper it would lose 90 million euros on the line this year. Despite the huge costs of high-speed lines, a study from the INSEE statistics agency found this year that they do bring significant economic activity, boosting companies’ profitability and productivity.