Tracey Emin's neon 'I want my time with you' at St Pancras International (courtesy artlyst.com)
Future Cities Forum has been talking to Chief Executive of High Speed 1, Dyan Crowther, about her plans to open a new direct rail route connecting London with the French city of Bordeaux.
Dyan explained that a five-hour direct rail service between London and Bordeaux is now possible as work has been done to create an open access route, meaning that there is no franchise premium to pay over and above published access charges. An operator will benefit from a legal guarantee of open and fair access too the network, stations and depots. HS1 has already begun preparing the ground through initial site scoping at Bordeaux St Jean for locating security and border controls.
The market for a new direct route from St Pancras International to Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast of south west France is underpinned by a doubling in air passenger traffic between the two cities over the last decade to 450,000. One in four of all British citizens settled in France live in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region and this has created a continuous 'visiting friend and family' segmentation that supports all year-round services.
Bordeaux is officially designated as a leading 'La French Tech' zone which creates common ground with London's status as the technology capital of Europe. Nearly 900 tech companies are active in the region and over $194 million in venture capital has been attracted over the last four years. Despite strong challenges from Paris, London remains Europe’s leading destination for ICT with the number employed up by 20% over the last 10 years, and £4 billion in venture capital raised by smaller London tech firms in last 2 years (according to CBRE). The cultural appeal of Bordeaux as a world famous wine region allied with eighteenth century architecture, sunshine and modern museums helped the city to win Lonely Planet's 'World's Best City to Visit 2017'.
HS1 Ltd has the 30 year concession from the government to own and operate the UK's only high speed rail route - between London and Folkestone. In addition it has the responsibility for running the high speed stations at London St Pancras, Stratford International, Ebbsfleet and Ashford International.