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Sunday, 27 May, 2001, 02:03 GMT 03:03 UK
French train breaks speed record
French railways TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse)
SNFC say the train could have gone even faster
A French high-speed train has travelled the full length of the country from Calais in the north to Marseilles in the south, in a record time of just three hours 29 minutes.

Record journey
1630 Dep Calais
2000 Arr Marseilles
Distance 1067 km
Average speed
306 km/h
Railway officials said the journey was made to test new equipment ahead of the inauguration of a three-hour service between Paris and Marseilles in June.

The train also set a new world speed record for travelling 1,000 kilometres.

The special train, which was carrying SNCF chairman Louis Gallois and some 250 journalists, recorded an average speed of 306 kilometers (190 miles) an hour, the company said.

SNCF boss Louis Gallois celebrates in Marseilles
SNCF boss Gallois celebrates in Marseilles
"The objective was not to set a record but to test our train," said SNCF spokesman Pierre-Bernard Fauvergue.

"But it is the first time in the world a high-speed train covered such a long distance without stopping and maintained a speed of over 300 km/h."

Company sources said the train could have gone much faster, but the intention was to arrive in Marseilles at 2000 (1800 GMT), just in time for the main evening news programmes on French TV.


It is the first time a high-speed train covered such a long distance without stopping and maintained a speed of over 300 km/h

SNCF spokesman Pierre-Bernard Fauvergue
The French news agency (AFP) reported that the journalists aboard were served delicacies from the various regions through which the train travelled.

The high-speed train service linking the capital Paris and Marseilles will be inaugurated on 7 June by President Jacques Chirac, with a full customer service beginning on 10 June.

The test was also seen as a precursor for putting in place other long-distance high-speed rail links, including routes linking Marseilles with either London or Amsterdam, AFP reported.

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