Saturday 28 December 2019

No to the Fast Train

High up on the mountainside above Ascain in the Basque country we noticed a giant message in forty metre high letters had been cut into the vegetation. We quickly deciphered it as saying 'LGV NON'. In other words, 'no to the Ligne Grande Vitesse'. Also cut into the bushes is the Basque word for 'no', 'EZ'.

This message has been up there for ten years, and there now seems little likelihood of the plan for the fast train line from Bordeaux to extend down into Spain, first proposed more than twenty-five years ago, to actually go ahead. The Basque community does not want it, arguing that it will do irreparable damage to a Natura 2000 listed site, and the 300 million euros required for a five kilometre tunnel and several viaducts is not justified. The current plan seems to be to improve the existing lowland and coast hugging train line between Bayonne and Hendaye rather than blast a new one through the mountains. Since last year permission has been granted for new houses on plots that would previously been too close to the proposed new line. This seems to indicate that the project has been quietly canned.

Whatever improvements to the railway go ahead, the aim is to get goods onto trains and reduce the endless stream of big trucks thundering up and down the autoroutes.


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