New Montpellier station receives first passengers
It's been a political hotcake from the start. A new TGV station for Montpellier, straddled between the two motorways, can only ever be truly successful if they joined the dots together and created a tram link.
The station opened on Saturday, without the tram link, and interviews with passengers proved that it's confusing for them. Some thought they were in the middle of Montpellier, and could walk to their destination.
Shades of Ryanair claiming that Girona is actually Barcelona ring true.
Our roving correspondent Chris Elliott sheds more light on the issue.
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By Chris Elliott
The new TGV station Montpellier Sud receives its first passengers
Where do we go from here? is the debate as the new station Montpellier Sud receives its first passengers.
Montpellier Sud is the first of two new TGV stations planned on the new High Speed line, bypassing Nimes and Montpellier
The Montpellier station is now open but the new station for Nimes at Manduel is still under construction and will open in 2019.
When the first passengers arrived, they or at least some of them were not aware that they were not at Montpellier’s city centre station.
For the time being passengers arriving and departing get to and from the centre by a combination of bus and tram.
Plans are in hand to extend tram line 1 to the station.
The debate has once again reared its head about the wisdom of building TGV stations out of town.
To be fair to SNCF it is part of the High Speed line from its present end north east of Nimes as far as Perpignan where it joins the new High Speed line into Spain.
But this line stopped short north east of Nimes quite some time ago due to a shortage of funds.
Ever since it has been postponed, postponed and never built.
Who do we blame? Well back in time the region Languedoc Roussillon did not want the line stating that the region saw no benefits from it, and as we all know politicians do have a habit here in France of jumping into the debate and scattering good reason to the wind.
A high speed line ceases to be a high speed line if it stops every 40, 50, kilometres. A TGV needs 17 extra minutes to slow down; enter a classic line, stop and then set off again.
Take a look across the frontier at Spain’s double the length high speed network and many of their TGV stations are out of town.
Right now the line stops just to the south of the new Montpellier Sud Station at St Jean de Vedas where it joins the existing classic line to Frontignan, Sete, Agde and Béziers, one fine day this new line will arrive in Béziers and beyond.
Let’s be fair, as currently I am with my Spanish friends following a similar debate in northern Spain where there is a lot of political pressure to reopen the line between Zaragoza and Pau in the south of France. Huesca the provincial capital had to accept a cul-de-sac extension of the Barcelona to Zaragoza line from Tardienta when it was first planned back in the late 1860s
The one immediate benefit that the media and local politicians have overlooked is that all freight trains now use the Montpellier bypass line, reducing noise and leaving more capacity for local TER trains to service Nimes and Montpellier city centre stations.
It sounds obvious, but the moral of this tale is that one should check when booking a ticket on line to be sure where the train departs and arrives from.
Chris Elliott author of ‘The Lost Railway Lines of l’Hérault’ ‘Medloc Show me the way to go home 1945 -1955’ and joint author of ‘Night Ferry 1936 – 1980’. Chris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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