France’s Macron unveils model of new, green high-speed train

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday unveiled a mock-up of the next generation of greener super high-speed trains, known in France as TGVs — four decades after the first TGV was launched.

At a presentation at Paris’ Gare de Lyon railway station, Macron played up the new train’s eco-friendly aspect.

“This decade for the TGV will be about innovation,” Macron said, adding that France must “respond to the challenge of moving around by emitting less and promoting new energy forms.”

Macron spoke in front of a full-scale model of the new TGV M. It will carry more passengers — 740 compared to the current train’s 600 — and is planned to enter service in 2024. It will also use one fifth less electricity than the current model, while maintaining its top speed of 320 kilometers per hour (199 miles per hour).

The ceremony took place 40 years after another French president, François Mitterrand, launched his bold new gamble in technology at the same station — the first TGV, or “Train a Grande Vitesse” (Very Fast Train).

With a line speed of over 270 km/h, according to France’s SNCF railway company, that train went on to change the face of modern train travel. It has since been emulated around the world, including recently in the U.K.’s highly anticipated HS2 project.

Macron’s government has promised 6.5 billion euros ($7.6 billion) in new investments this year to expand high-speed train lines, and boosting train use has been part of his government’s strategy to reduce emissions.