France is marking the 30th anniversary of the launch of the country’s high-speed rail service, the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse.
At a ceremony at a Paris station, Guillaume Pepy, the head of SNCF French railways, saw off one of the original trains specially refurbished that will tour France for two months and spoke of further expansion plans.
France was the pioneer of such fast tracks and half of the high-speed train travel in Europe takes place in the country.
However, the French are pushing for more international connections so high-speed trains can truly rival airlines throughout Europe.
Over its 30 year life, the French system has carried 1.7 billion passengers on its 1,900 kilometres of tracks. There are now 230 high speed stations around Europe.
The service makes a profit, but being first means its infrastructure is older, and SNCF in its recently published annual accounts said those profits will be swallowed up by investment in refurbishing old tracks and building new ones.