Want a new TGV service that links Nice to Paris in three hours flat? Want a high-speed alternative that beats easyJet to London, Geneva and Milan?
Easy. French rail operator SNCF already employ TGV services from Nice to Paris and beyond.
There’s just one problem. They don’t run very fast. Because to run a Train à Grande Vitesse you need a Ligne à Grande Vitesse. It’s this high-speed line, currently on the drawing board, that could change Nice overnight.
Here’s the back story. The LGV Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has been on the table since 2001. This is the year the Paris-Marseille LGV opened, halving journey times from France’s two largest cities to just three hours.
That’s correct. The TGV rips the 750km between Paris and Marseilleat speeds of up to 320km/h. Zoom! Then slows to 100km/h when it departs Marseille for Nice. Crawl!
The LGV Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur will change all that. In 2020 the route will be finalised and the €15bn megaproject, so beloved of French politicians, will begin. Like many TGV lines, it will end at a custom build high-speed hub. Like Amsterdam Schiphol interchange station, or Paris-Charles de Gaulle TGV, the new Provence link will end at Nice Airport, where new Tramway line 2 will run into town.
By 2035, Paris-Nice by train will take 3 hours 40 minutes, down from 5 hours 40 minutes today. Marseille-Nice will take an hour, down from 2 hours 30 today.
As a taste of things to come, in 2015 Eurostar started direct TGV services from London St Pancras to Marseille. It takes a stress-free six hours and costs £49 one-way.
Finally, if you want speed try running in the other direction. In 2013, Nice’s energetic mayor Christian Estrosi made a deal with Italian rail ministers. By 2022 Nice-Genoa should take two hours, with Nice-Milan just over three. Tutto bene!