Passengers could be able to travel from London to Bordeaux in under five hours thanks to plans for direct train journeys unveiled by rail operators along the route, to throw down the gauntlet to low-cost airlines.
Rail travellers currently have to change at Paris, with the present route taking around five and a half hours with a one hour connection in the French capital, and the return leg longer due to the need to pass through border and security controls.
HS1 Ltd, the owner and operator of High Speed 1, has said it's in advanced planning with three other international railway operators along the proposed route working on pre-planned and agreed timetable slots and train routes. They're hoping the route will be up and running in a couple of years.
Dyan Crowther, chief executive of HS1 Ltd, said:
As we've seen with the recent introduction of the Eurostar London-Amsterdam service, there's a real demand for international train services to provide a comfortable and better-connected service, especially for leisure journeys.
This is the first time that railway operators have collaborated in this way and saves the train operator having to do a lot of legwork. The route is almost ready for a train operator to turn up and turn the key as soon as the UK and French governments agree on border controls.
With the right commitment, we could be looking at new services in the next couple of years. The service will take passengers direct from city centre to city centre, taking the hassle out of travel to South West France.
It comes after Eurostar's highly-anticipated four-hour service from London to Amsterdam got under way in early April 2018.
High-speed trains will reach speeds of up to 200mph on the proposed direct journey to Bordeaux, with the envisioned route bypassing Paris altogether and utilising a newly completed 302km French high-speed rail line linking Tours with Bordeaux.
The four railway operators along the proposed route, HS1, Lisea, Eurotunnel and SNCF Réseau met last month to discuss developing the main railway station in Bordeaux to allow for international departures, along with possible departure slots, and cooperation with authorities.
They are eyeing an opportunity to take on low-cost airlines, which they said presently fly 1.2m passengers per year between the two cities.
This article originally appeared on City A.M.