The Attractiveness of Lille: Factors for Consideration in the Development of High-speed Services

The Attractiveness of Lille: Factors for Consideration in the Development of High-speed Services


E O'Loughlin, Steer Davies Gleave, UK


The paper will present the methodology, results and issues involved in a study into the patterns of demand and options for the development of rail services to respond to the goal of enhancing the position of Lille as a strategic transport hub.


The city of Lille in northern France has witnessed a significant renaissance since the opening of the TGV Nord high-speed line in 1993. The benefits of much faster links to Paris, many other cities in France, as well as to London and Brussels, have been evident, and Lille acts as a major long-distance rail hub for much of northern France and the western parts of Belgium.

The agglomeration of Lille and the Nord Pas de Calais region want to ensure that it is positioned as advantageously as possible for the future, given the opening of the international rail market to competition, and the changes that have been implemented and are continuing to be implemented on the LGV Nord.

This paper will be based on work, undertaken mainly in 2010, for a group of business, transport and political representatives of the Lille area. The work sought to establish the potential for growth in demand to and from Lille, including interchange, under a range of different scenarios. These scenarios encompassed assumptions of the train service, of economic growth, and of the relative attractiveness of other modes. In addition, the scenarios chosen sought to reconcile some of the conflicting aspirations of members of the client group. In particular, the potential for a third Lille station, to the south of city, was examined, and was a source of disagreement within the client group.

Following an assessment of demand patterns, some initial analysis was undertaken of the operational feasibility of delivering options which involved a significant enhancement in train services. The aim of this was to inform what steps needed to be taken in terms of rolling stock provision, infrastructure development, or procurement through a contract with one or other operators, and their timescales associated with them. This could then pave the way for political discussions about the choices to be made, and the sources of funding that might be available.

In addition to discussing the methodology adopted and the results obtained, the paper will address some of the issues associated with a UK consultancy working in a foreign country, the sources of data that are available and the challenges involved in delivering high-quality work to a client group with differing political motives. Finally, given proposed high-speed line development in France over the coming two decades, some insight will be presented on the factors identified within this study which could be applied elsewhere, and what challenges will need to be overcome if those high-speed lines are to be viable propositions.


Association for European Transport