Europe continues its thrust toward rail innovation and environmental consciousness. Think speedy new links between world-class cities and solar-powered tunnels. This is 21st century travel at the speed of, well, trains.
Wine in Less Time: A new high-speed rail link that will slash the journey time between Bordeaux and Paris has been given the go-ahead. What now takes over three hours will be cut to just two. The new link will also connect this wine capital to Tours, gateway to the Loire Valley. Construction will start early next year, and is expected to be complete in 2017. The project is being billed as the French rail sector’s biggest-ever public-private partnership. Drink in the details
Muy Rapido: High-speed trains are getting a boost thanks to new EU funding – to the tune of €5 million. A study of the railway axis of southwest Europe, or what is known as “Priority Project 3,” helped lay the groundwork for the eventual upgrade of these high-speed lines. Look for reduced travel times in the near future and enhanced cohesion with the rest of Europe. Read Mas
A French “Star” Trek: The Next Generation: TGV, the speedy record-breaker, is unveiling the “third generation” TGV Duplex trainsets. Alstom Chief Executive Patrick Kron formally handed over the first of 55 to SNCF President Guillaume Pepy on May 30. Ordered in June 2007, the latest evolution of this train incorporates changes arising from EU technical specifications as well as improved passenger information and fire safety equipment. Beam up
Here Comes the Sun: A two-mile-long solar tunnel – constructed of 16,000 solar panels – was recently unveiled on the high-speed rail line between Paris and Amsterdam. The tunnel was originally constructed to protect the region’s forests by diverting trains through the mountains, rather than felling ancient trees. But the project has taken on a more meaningful role: producing enough energy to power all the trains in Belgium for one day per year. Power into progress
Small Shoes to Fill: Eurostar measured its entire carbon footprint for 2010 to have a reference point for the future – which includes hitting many environmental objectives by 2015. The goal? Reduce consumption, increase recycling. And to cut business emissions 25%.
This groundbreaking study is part of Eurostar’s integrated approach to “treading lightly.”
The plan is to look at ways the company can reduce their own energy, waste and water consumption and also make changes to its supply chains and other areas outside their immediate business. See more environmental initiatives