TGV Lyria is the brand name used for TGV railway lines connecting France and Switzerland. Lyria is also a corporation that runs the service using the staff of SNCF in France and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS) in Switzerland – the staff consists of one French and one Swiss train manager on the whole journey.
Initially, the corporation was a groupement d'intérêt économique (GIE: "group of (shared) economic interest") between SNCF and SBB-CFF-FFS whose goal was the creation of a TGV service between Gare de Lyon (Paris) and Lausanne/Bern. Today, the corporation is officially a limited company according to French law (Société par actions simplifiée / SAS ). SNCF owns 74% of the capital and SBB-CFF-FFS the remaining 26%.
Starting in mid-1961, the route between Paris and Lausanne was operated by the Trans Europ Express Cisalpin trains, which continued on to Milan. On January 22, 1984, this service was replaced by a new TGV service with tri-current locomotives, though service was cut back to Lausanne. In the spirit of the previous European expresses, the trains were christened with names: Champs-Elysées, Lemano, Lutetia and Cisalpin. On May 31, 1987, the train service was rebranded as EuroCity. By this time, a service to Bern was in place as well.
The GIE was created for the first time on May 23, 1993, to operate the segments between Paris and Lausanne/Bern. Service to Geneva was not covered at that time. During the winter of 1995–1996, a single roundtrip per day was extended from Lausanne to Brigue to stop at stations serving ski resorts in the Rhône Valley. As was the case with other trains with similar service, these trains were branded as TGV des Neiges. On September 28, 1997, the service was slightly reorganized and rebranded as Ligne de Cœur, with new livery applied to the rolling stock. On March 4, 2002, the name Lyria was applied for the first time to the service. The name then slowly came to stand for all TGV services between France and Switzerland and was applied to Paris–Geneva trains around January 2005. Service to Geneva had existed as part of LGV Sud-Est since 1981.
At the end of 2005, Lyria transported its 3 millionth passenger.
After the opening of the TGV Est in June 2007, Lyria service between Paris and Zurich began using the newly constructed line instead of the previous route, passing through Strasbourg, Colmar, Mulhouse and Basel. Consequently, service from Paris departed from Gare de l'Est instead of Gare de Lyon until 2011. The service now uses new stock, the TGV POS.
Since December 12, 2010, travel time on the Paris–Geneva line has improved with the reconstruction of the Haut-Bugey line, which connects Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. Until then, only the western part of the line was open (up to Oyonnax), and the project has restored the entire length of the line. Travel time between Paris and Geneva reduced by 30 minutes, to 3 hours and 5 minutes, and track capacity was also increased, allowing nine trains each way per day instead of the usual seven.
In 2011, with the completion of the LGV Rhin-Rhône, travel time between Paris and Basel/Zurich has been reduced by 30 minutes. The departure station in Paris has returned to Gare de Lyon.
Lyria runs the following routes:
- Geneva - Lille: 4 roundtrips per week; travel time 4 hrs 9 min
- Geneva - Marseille - Nice: 1 or 2 roundtrips per day; travel time 3 hrs 30 min from Marseille, 6 hrs 21 from Nice
- Geneva - Paris: up to 9 roundtrips per day; travel time 3 hrs 5 min
- Lausanne - Geneva - Paris: 4 roundtrips per week; travel time 4 hrs 4 min
- Lausanne - Dijon - Paris: 5 roundtrips per day; travel time 3 hrs 35 min
- In summer on Saturdays, runs through to Brig; travel time 6 hrs
- Bern - Dijon - Paris: 1 trip per day, travel time 4 hrs 45 min
- Paris - Dijon - Bern - Interlaken: 1 trip per day, travel time 5 hrs 30 min
- Zürich-Basel–Mulhouse–Paris: 6 roundtrips per day; travel time 4 hrs 3 min from Zürich and 3 hrs 3 min from Basel
For the route between Paris and Lausanne, Bern, and Zurich, new TGV Sud-Est tri-current trains are used, with 7 trains owned by SNCF and 2 owned by CFF (train nos. 112 & 114). Since summer 2006, 5 trains (nos. 110, 111, 113, 114, and 118) were renovated to offer a better quality of service.
The maximum speed is attained on the LGV Sud-Est between Aisy-sous-Thil (west of Dijon) and Valenton (near Paris). Service to Geneva is operated using "classic" TGV Sud-Est equipment; that is, bi-current sets relieved by TGV Duplex. Trains, with the exception of those running to Geneva, used to carry the Ligne de cœur logo; this has been slowly replaced in 2006 with the TGV Lyria logo and only the old red-border livery remains. The CFF logo was also added to their cars during April 2006.
Since the opening of the LGV Est in 2007, service to Basel/Zurich is run by the new TGV POS as well as renovated TGV Réseau trains.
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