• The Via Atlantica aligns the rail projects defined by the TEN-T (?) creating a high-performance coast-to-coast connection from the Atlantic to Eastern Europe.
  • Via Atlantica forms a true backbone of East-West links in Europe.
    A high-performance railway infrastructure will facilitate the passenger transport and offer the Atlantic ports genuine access to the European area.
  • Without Via Atlantica, the principal losers will be: Central France and the Atlantic Arc.
    The major spatial planning projects fail to include the populations of Eastern Europe and the Atlantic coastline.
The policy for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) aims to put in place infrastructures and interconnections that will serve as the basis for the single market, ensuring the free movement of people and goods and supporting growth, employment and competitiveness in the EU. These corridors will henceforth be the benchmark for the selection of projects to be co-financed by the EU in the future.
On 16 October 2013, the European Commission formalized the new map of the nine major corridors that will form the backbone of transport within the European single market and "will revolutionize East-West links as part of the most radical reform of EU policy on infrastructure since the single market began in the 80s", assured the institution.

A resolutely European rail project

Photo: Ludovic Fouché

The association's goal

's objective is to promote the creation of the Via Atlantica, a truly high-performance continuous East-West European, high-capacity, mixed (passenger and freight) railway axis, integrating the priority projects encompassed by the European Commission's Trans-European Transport Network. To do this, has the task of rallying the various stakeholders. Its French section is intended to link the Atlantic and Mediterranean corridors.

This scalable project is called Via Atlantica, Budapest - Atlantic coast from Caen to Lisbon via the North of the Massif Central.

Via Atlantica is defined as a two-branch "system".

  • Central European Branch (CEB) constituting a "railway bridge" between the Western Iberian Peninsula, via Bordeaux-Spain and Italy, Central Europe, via the Lyon-Turin line and the Rhine-Rhône TGV.
  • West Branch (WB) from Limoges to Nantes, Vannes/Rennes and Caen. The modernisation of the Rennes-Brest/Vannes-Quimper lines will integrate all of Brittany, which is currently excluded from the TEN-T, in this new network.

Via Atlantica will bring four SNIT projects (National Transport Infrastructure Plan) into alignment: Poitiers-Limoges , Paris-Orleans-Clermont-Lyon (POCL), East-West Bar (Lyon-Bordeaux and Lyon-Limoges-Nantes-Rennes-Caen/Brest/Quimper), and LNBPL (New Brittany - Pays de la Loire Line).

Characteristics of the link: The rail link will be at a speed to allow a significant modal shift from air and road to rail, accepting passengers and freight transport (mainly of containers). It is a tool for the energy transition and balanced spatial planning of the European territory.

Photo: Ludovic Fouché

Interests of the link

Currently, the map of the Commission's priority programmes does not mention any project being underway to effectively connect the Atlantic Arc to Italy, and Brittany to the Iberian Peninsula.

Via Atlantica satisfies the objectives of multiple public policies:

In fact, on a European scale, the Via Atlantica, a genuine backbone, would improve the consistency and homogeneity of the Union, facilitating the circulation of goods and passengers. It would lead the national railway networks to cooperate in order to ensure interoperability.

It is likely to contain or even reduce road and air transport, and consequently greenhouse gas emissions, to meet the European objective for reducing them by 60% before 2050. It therefore participates in tackling global warming. It also decreases the consumption of hydrocarbons and responds to concerns about energy efficiency with the shortcut between the Iberian Peninsula and Lyon, serving as a tool for our energy independence.

Via Atlantica will bring the Atlantic Arc closer to the large business areas of Central Europe and the Po Valley. The ports on the Atlantic Coast, in particular those of Brest, Nantes - St-Nazaire , La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Bilbao, Santander, Gijon, La Coruna, Vigo, and Aveiro will develop, as a result of the growth of their hinterland, with the inclusion of the Italian ports of Genoa, Venice and Trieste in the network.

Via Atlantica will open up the regions of the Western Iberian Peninsula, as well as Aquitaine and Lower Normandy, in tandem with the line linking Caen-Le Mans-Tours, Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Poitou-Charentes , Central France, Limousin, Auvergne, and the Rhône-Alpes region towards the West, and will serve as a tool for the economic development of the Northern part of the Massif Central.

The three traditional French transversal rail links - which the Via Atlantica will replace with fast inter-city connections (Rennes-Nantes-Lyon, Bordeaux-Lyon and Caen/Quimper-Rennes- Nantes-Bordeaux) - will continue to serve the territories' smaller stations?.

By creating a "network effect", the Via Atlantica will help improve the economic and financial profitability of the high-speed LGV lines of Rhine-Rhône, Lyon-Turin, Y Basque and the Spanish high-speed AVE lines to the West of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Via Atlantica will incorporate the airports located in the served territory into the network.

In addition, this transversal high-throughput rail connection will avoid transits through the Île de France region and the Rhone valley, where the infrastructures are congested, while generating operational and energy savings. This will be particularly the case for Iberian Peninsula - Northern Italy - Central Europe traffic.

Finally, the increased flows of passengers travelling by rail will allow air transport to be broadly redirected on intercontinental routes.

The Via Atlantica constitutes an advantageous complement to the Mediterranean corridor, especially with the natural extension of the Lyon-Turin line towards the Atlantic, allowing it to shed its dead end status.

The Via meets the three criteria necessary to qualify for official planning: intermodality, balanced spatial planning of the European territory and energy transition tool.

's action has been decisive for integrating the East-West Bar (art. 11 of Implementing Law for Grenelle 1 on the environment), through the design of the Via Atlantica, into the National Transport Infrastructure Plan (SNIT) project.

Photo: Luc Olivier

The Association's structure and organisation

Since September 2016, the association has been chaired by Jean-Claude Béchade.

The General Meeting is held once a year. The Board of Directors, which is elected by the General Meeting for three years, meets three times a year and may be consulted, in an emergency, when it is not in session, on any matter of importance.

Composition of the Board of Directors in September 2016:

  • Jacques Bernard, Vice-Chair of Rennes Métropole
  • Jean-François Mary, Chair of Pays de Redon
  • Thierry Benoît, Deputy of Ille-et-Vilaine
  • Bertrand Affilé, Vice-Chair of Nantes Métropole
  • Jean-Françoic Fountaine, Chair of the Urban Community of La Rochelle
  • Dominique Bussereau, Chair of General Council 17
  • Antoine Audi, Mayor of Périgueux
  • Daniel Dugléry, Chair of the Urban Community of Montluçon
  • François Rage, Clermont Communauté
  • Yves Nicollin, Chair of Grand Roanne
  • Jacques Auzou, Vice-Chair of General Council 24
  • Jean-Pierre Limousin, Chair of Haute-Vienne CCI
  • Jean-Pierre Lhospitallier, Chair of Montlucon CCI
  • Philippe Dutruc, Chair of Deux-Sèvres CCI
  • Jean-Claude BECHADE
  • Guillaume BERTRAND
  • Pascak BIRONNEAU
  • Ludovic FOUCHE
  • Maurice JEANNEAU
  • Antoine MENEGAUX
  • Jean-Marc MIGUET
  • Ronan VIEL