Europe’s largest high-speed rail operator has predicted that domestic air travel in the UK will lose millions of passengers to a 250mph train service if an ultra-fast network becomes a reality.
The chief executive of the French rail giant, SNCF, said the proposed network could dominate travel from London to all British cities as far north as Glasgow. Guillaume Pepy said the “crowning success” of Eurostar, which now controls 80% of the London to Paris and Brussels market, could be repeated if a replica of the French TGV system arrives in the UK.
Transport analysts argue that rail journeys must be around three hours long to be competitive with airline services on the same routes. Travelling from London-to-Glasgow takes four and a half hours on Virgin Trains and, as a consequence, airlines account for more than eight out of 10 journeys on that route. A TGV-style line would take passengers from London to Scotland in around three hours, according to SNCF.