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High-speed rail : a model extended beyond its relevance

COUR DES COMPTES

In October 2014, the Cour des comptes issued a public report devoted to High-speed rail : a model extended beyond its relevance. The history of high-speed rail in France is the history of the convergence, 30 years ago of an avant-garde technology with a large public. Indeed, many French people have had the opportunity to enjoy the comfort and speed of a mode of transport that is moreover considered by the cities it serves as an indispensable landmark of modernity. As the high-speed rail network (HSL) has expanded, the relevance of the model and its benefits to the community have gradually decreased: new lines are less and less profitable, the extremely large number of stations served is inconsistent with the very notion of high speed, the profit margin obtained from this operation as a whole is decreasing and each year covers a slightly smaller portion of the deficit incurred by the other SNCF rail operations. This investigation completes several studies by the Cour des comptes on the subject of rail transport: regional express transport in 2009, Transilien in 2010, maintenance of the French national rail network in 2012, accounts and management of the RFF (French Rail Network) in 2013, trains d’équilibre du territoire (TET, trains linking several regions) in 2014.

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