Paris by rail from London in TWO HOURS: New 224mph trains will slash journey times

Train journeys between London and Paris could be slashed to under two hours by airlines setting up rival services to compete with the Eurostar.

Firms including Air France are desperate to break into the increasingly lucrative market and believe they can make the journey time even shorter. Fares could also fall.

A new generation of trains is being introduced which are capable of carrying 900 passengers at an average speed of 224mph, 38mph faster than the current TGVs.

Speedy: Airlines want to set up a rival to the Eurostar and slash journey times from London to Paris to under two hours

Speedy: Airlines want to set up a rival to the Eurostar and slash journey times from London to Paris to under two hours

The current journey time to Paris is two hours 15 minutes at best.

Shrugging off the threat, Eurostar said the Air France announcement showed 'high-speed rail has become the natural choice for shorthaul business and leisure trips to Europe'.

The spokesman added: 'It is cleaner, becoming quicker and with rising fuel costs the cheaper alternative to air travel.'

Over the past few years thousands of passengers have switched from British Airways and Air France flights to Eurostar.

A spokesman for Air France-KLM in Paris said it hopes the London-Paris service will be up and running by October 2010, along with a Paris-Amsterdam one hour 30 minutes service.

St Pancras International is capable of handling eight departures and eight arrivals every hour - far more than the current timetable which has at most four departures and four arrivals an hour.

Air France is liaising with Alstom, the maker of the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) high-speed trains currently used across France and on the Eurostar service.

It wants to buy or lease the new generation of Alstom AGVs.


Eurostar said it did not necessarily plan to use the faster trains in 2010 when the route is opened to competitors as its current fleet is only half-way through its 25-year lifespan.

Air France-KLM boss Jean-Cyril Spinetta said he dreamed of seeing highspeed trains 'in the colours of Air France', referring to TGV trains as 'airplanes on wheels'.

In April last year a specially modified Eurostar reached a speed of 357mph.

The move to introduce competition is the first of its kind and raises the possibility of other services from London.

Destinations which would be ideal include Amsterdam and Frankfurt, both of which would be within three hours.

Direct links to Lyon, Marseilles, Geneva and Bordeaux would also become possibilities with longer-distance trains, which could operate more like budget airlines.

SNCF, the French rail firm, has already introduced a service from Paris to Biarritz aimed at budget travellers.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now