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Rail operator seeks to axe Bern-Paris TGV

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Lyria's TGV routes linking Paris and Switzerland's major cities (Image: Lyria)
10:42 CET+01:00
Rail operator Lyria is threatening to scrap the high-speed train service linking the Swiss and French capitals next year because it loses too much money.

Alain Barbey, Lyria’s general manager, says the TGV route is running a deficit of 2.3 million a year and no signs of improvement appear in sight.

The line runs between Bern and Paris via Neuchâtel with stops in the French towns of Pontarlier, Frasne and Dijon, an itinerary that takes more than six and a half hours.

“There is only one train a day and the route is long and winding,” Barbey told Tamedia’s French-language newspapers, explaining that the service no longer meets the needs of passengers.

“And we see no possible evolution.”

One of the problems dogging the service is that since the introduction of new links between Bern and Basel, a third of passengers travelling from the Swiss capital to Paris have elected to go via Basel.

Lyria is jointly run by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and SNCF, the French rail carrier.

But both state-run railways are under pressure to cut costs.

Politicians from Neuchâtel and the French communities of Pontarlier and Frasne are alarmed at the prospect of losing the TGV service.

They met with Barbey and representatives of SBB and SNCF earlier this month  to insist on the need to maintain the link.

“Not everything is being done to promote the Bern-Neuchâtel-Paris line,” Marie-Guite Dufay, chair of the Franche-Comté region is quoted as telling the Tamedia newspapers.

Dufay is also worried that the TGV line linking Lausanne and Paris may also be at risk after SNCF announced possible changes starting in 2015.

She has sought guarantees that the line will continue to serve Frasne in France.

Barbey said Lyria was happy with the performance of the Lausanne-Paris “and there is no risk that it will disappear in the short- to medium-term.”

 He said the only concern lies with planned construction work at the Lausanne train station which will result in two fewer platforms being available starting in 2015.

Barbey added, however, that the rail operator could not guarantee long-term routes because “things can evolve rapidly in the rail sector”.

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