Avelia Horizon train

New high-speed operator launches in France

A new rail operator has launched in France, becoming the country’s first independent high-speed TOC.

Proxima is a French project led by its two co-founders, Rachel Picard and Tim Jackson, with the financial backing of Antin Infrastructure Partners.

The first phase of Proxima’s development will involve an investment of around €1 billion (£850 million), which will fund rolling stock, operational launch costs and working capital requirements.

General Director and co-founder Rachel Picard said: “Societal, climatic and territorial issues are at the core of our project.”

“We want to help the French public take the train more, by offering them an alternative solution, which is easy, quick, and integrated into their new lifestyles.”

Proxima will provide more than 10 million seats a year, initially linking Angers, Bordeaux, Nantes and Rennes to Paris. These routes have shown particularly strong demand in recent years for both business and leisure travel.

French manufacturer Alstom will provide the fleet for the project, with Proxima ordering 12 Avelia Horizon latest generation high-speed trains. The first train is expected to begin dynamic testing in early 2027.

Proxima co-founder Tim Jackson said: “We are happy to embark on this entrepreneurial adventure with first-rate, French industrial partners, to build a robust and quality offer, and further accelerate the development of green mobility in France.”

Proxima has also reached an agreement with Lisea to use the new purpose-built maintenance depot in Marcheprime, near Bordeaux.

Image credit: Alstom Creative Design

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