Paris-Bordeaux in 2 hours 4 min: a reality since 2nd July thanks to the teams at SYSTRA
7 July 2017

Paris-Bordeaux in 2 hours 4 min: a reality since 2nd July thanks to the teams at SYSTRA

SEA are the three letters that designate the high speed railway line (HSL) connecting the Atlantic coast to Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. It took just six years – record time for an HSL in France – to lay 302km of track between Tours and Bordeaux and build 38km of junctions. This project involved nearly 9,000 people, including 700 SYSTRA employees, from construction to testing.

A structure-building project for the future of mobility in Europe.

Bordeaux is now just 2 hours and 4 minutes away from Paris, compared to 3 hours and 14 minutes previously, transforming the mobility prospects for 20 million passengers. The HSL is linked to the national railway network, boosting the appeal of the regions.

SEA fully complies with the commitments of the Grenelle environmental compact, namely to promote travel to the regions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Travelling round-trip from Paris to Bordeaux on the HSL as opposed to flying saves 50,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year.

The people factor: key to the project’s success

Even in the design phase, the importance of planning, budget and quality proved just how essential the people factor was to this project. The right skills at the right time were needed at every step.

SYSTRA was also committed to ensuring that its more experienced employees shared their knowledge with younger team members, encouraging upskilling across the board.

The biggest railway construction site in Europe and the largest public-private partnership in rail travel

SEA was a high-stakes project calling for strong partners ready to assume their share of associated risks. Sharing the same long-term vision, SYSTRA and VINCI teamed up to imagine a new way to design and execute this project: shorter construction deadlines, strict cost management and "traffic” risk borne by the concession-holder. To date, this is the largest railway PPP (public-private partnership) signed in France (€7.8 billion), covering a 50-year period.

Within this contractual framework, the necessary resources and innovation capabilities of private-sector partners were mobilised for the development of the French railway system, all under efficient deadlines.

An HSL at the cutting edge of railway interoperability in Europe

The SEA HSL project observes the latest European standards in terms of rail traffic, including in particular the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), a unified signalling security and supervision system aimed at ensuring the interoperability of various national railway networks.
The goal is to establish a veritable European railway network allowing all railway operators to run their trains on this line.

SYSTRA: a stakeholder in HSL operation and maintenance

Once the line is commissioned, MESEA will be in charge of operation and maintenance (70% VINCI Concessions and 30% SYSTRA). MESEA has been involved since the design phase, in order to incorporate the relevant constraints as early as possible, and to comply with the security and performance requirements in force.

SEA HSL: Key Figures

  • 302km of new track and 38km of junctions
  • 6 years of design and construction
  • 320km/h at operating speed
  • 488 engineered structures, 19 of which are over 200km long
  • Unprecedented dual-standard signalling, ready for European rail traffic
  • 44 years of maintenance participation via MESEA.

Picture: SNCF ©Maxime Huriez

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