Presenting my next transit-styled diagram, this time showing all the high speed train routes that pass through France. This includes the French (SNCF) TGV trains, the Eurostar trains from London, the Thalys services from Belgium and the Netherlands, and some ICE services from Germany that operate in tandem with corresponding TGV services from France. It does not show high speed trains that do not pass through France: for example, the ICE train from Amsterdam to Germany does not pass through France, so is not shown.
Research for this diagram was particularly tricky as no one source outlines all the routes in one comprehensive listing. I had to compile the information from various sources, none more valuable than the amazing Deutsche Bahn web timetable, which I have fond memories of using in 2003 as I caught trains all over Europe while backpacking.
Once I started the diagram, the sheer amount of high speed services in France initially overwhelmed me, and it was a long while before things formed a coherent pattern for me. Once I worked out the complex routing of trains out of and around Paris, things began to fall into place.I decided that colour-coding would try to reflect the origin of the train, so all trains out of the Gare de l’Est in Paris are variations of green, for example,while all Thalys routes are a shade of the rolling stock’s distinctive maroon. I find it particularly interesting how the initially homogeneous colours become more mixed the further from Paris you get, especially towards Marseille, where lines from all over France begin to converge towards their final destination.
It’s interesting to note that the equivalent diagram in America would consist of one route – the Acela Express from New York to Washington, DC – and even that barely qualifies as “high speed”. Fast by American standards, maybe…
But do note that these trains do not necessarily travel at their maximum speed (up to 300km/ per hour or 185 miles/hour) on all the routes shown. To attain these speeds, the trains have to run on specially-built tracks, which currently are only on the highest density parts of the system. However, all these routes use TGV/Eurostar/Thalys/ICE rolling stock, which is the criterion for inclusion on this diagram.
My favourite parts of the diagram include the grand loop around Paris to the east, the complex interplay of routes around Lille, and the subtle inclusion of the Winter routes to the French Alps without having to accord them an entire route from start to finish: more complexity is not what this diagram needs!
As usual, you can view a much larger version of the diagram over on Flickr. Comments are always welcome!
Update: March 3rd, 2011: New version of the diagram with a new route added from Melun to Marseille (Don’t know how I missed that one!). Routes from Le Havre to Strasbourg and Cherbourg to Dijon were deleted, as these “experimental” (and poorly patronised) routes stopped running in December 2010. Winter services to Evian and Saint-Gervais also added. Finally, the station names have been made a little larger.
Prints of this diagram are now available at Society6. Even though smaller sizes are offered, I would only recommend the largest size (X-Large) due to the small type and fine detail in the diagram.