Joining forces for the Via Atlantica

Thursday 16th June 2016, Michel Caniaux (Delegate General of) and Guillaume Bertrand (General Secretary) have been heard by Jean Mallot (Special advisor to Alain Vidalies - Secretary of State in charge of Transport, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs). The interview focused on the steps to be taken following cancellation of the high-speed line from Limoges to Poitiers by the Council of State of the Declaration of Public Utility.

The association came back to the Council of State's main argument in their judgement, which considers that the project for the high-speed line from Limoges to Poitiers constitutes "a simple bar joining Limoges to the high-speed rail network without any extension allowing for later developments".

The association reminded him that the judgement does not refer to the East-West bar project which had however been approved by the law on the Grenelle Environment project. This still features in the legal texts referring to the high-speed railway projects to be carried out in the long term. It provides us with another perspective of the high-speed line from Limoges to Poitiers as the first link in an East-West railway line which is to link the region of Lyon to the Atlantic façade, whilst relying on the project for the high-speed line joining Paris, Orléans, Clermont and Lyon.

Quite evidently, insisted on the fact that the project for the high-speed line from Limoges to Poitiers should not constitute an end in itself but should be the first link to serve a vast area in the heart of France, which is larger than Portugal and which lacks reliable railway infrastructures. Within this framework, rather than seeking to contrast the Limoges to Poitiers high-speed railway project with the modernisation of the POLT (Classic line joining Paris and Toulouse via Orléans and Limoges), it would appear wiser to research the ways in which the two projects can complement each other with the aim of determining the best service to offer to the population.

Regarding the financial plan, it would have been better to take into account the European scale of the project, which should place more importance on asserting itself when explaining the modernisation of the Bordeaux-Limoges-Guéret-Lyon railway line. This fits into a railway line which is undeniably of European dimensions and involves linking the Iberian peninsula and Central Europe. Moreover, work on the development of the multi-functionality of the high-speed line from Limoges to Poitiers, by integrating further regional and interregional routes for "High-speed Intercity Trains" would be likely to further reinforce the financial viability of the project.

When new regions are set up, it seems astounding that the Massif Central, as well as two bordering regions as important as “Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes“ or “Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes”, should be henceforth deprived of any important railway links that are recognised nationally for linking them from East to West.