17 July 2017

Inauguration of the SEA and BPL high-speed lines

In our previous newsletters, we have often mentioned the South Europe Atlantic (SEA) and Brittany -Pays de Loire (BPL) high-speed lines. These recently hit the headlines when they came into revenue service on Sunday, 2 July 2017.

It took 6 years of construction work and 1 year of tests for the SEA HSL and 4 years of construction and 1 year of tests for the BPL HSL to put the west of France firmly on the high-speed map! With more than 700 km of new and 62 km of connecting track, the Eurailtest teams had to take it in turns over the best part of a year (303 days) to complete all the tests need to qualify the lines for 320km/h in revenue service operation.

The tests conducted on the SEA and BPL high-speed lines were many and various. For the SEA HSL, they included current collection quality, dynamic behaviour validation, GSMR (railway wireless communications standard), electromagnetic compatibility and aerodynamic tests. For the BPL HSL, track and overhead geometry characterisation, power supply quality, signalling equipment operation, GSM-R network finalisation/validation/endurance and ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) tests were the order of the day.

The SEA high-speed line passes through the Centre, Poitou-Charentes and Aquitaine regions and serves stations in the centre of towns such as Tours, Poitiers, Angoulême and Bordeaux. The BPL high-speed line, for its part, runs through the Sarthe, Mayenne and Ille-et-Vilaine départements, calling in Le Mans, Sablé-sur-Sarthe and Rennes. Trip times have been slashed, with Bordeaux now at just 2 hrs 4 mins and Rennes at 1 hr 25 mins from Paris!