As we have previously reported, this international line, newly re-built and electrified will open again in December 2018.
On October 12th, representatives of Bourgogne Franche Comté Region, SNCF Réseau, SBB and the canton of Jura Suisse met with the regional press at the small village of Morvillars, 5 km from Belfort-Montbeliard TGV station. The purpose of the "press point" was to annonce the final adjustments to the timetable of the new line, and various other details. The choice of the meeting place was not accidental. Morvillars is one of the three new stops between Delle and the TGV station. Earlier this year, the mayor discovered by chance that the village had been excluded from the provisional timetable. Considering that a new platform had been built at Morvillars station with a car park for 60 vehicles, in preparation for the new service, it is clear that the mayor was less than pleased.
The project is not simple. The different participants at the meeting were motivated by different objectives not necessarily compatible. For the Swiss Jura canton the intention was to obtain regular access to the French TGV network. For SBB, the challenge was to achieve that objective in the most efficient and economical way. A solution had been devised by using the turn around time at Delle. At present, the Swiss train arrives at Delle every hour at +40 and departs again at +19, a gap of 39 minutes. It was calculated that the Swiss train could continue to Belfort TGV station arriving at +55. After 8 minutes, the Swiss train could depart at + 03 and reach Delle at +18 and depart across the border at +20. This solution would not require any extra trains. However, there were two difficulties.
Theoretical calculations showed that the Swiss train would only have time to stop twice between Delle and the TGV station, but there are three new halts. Hence, the last stop at Morvillars was eliminated without actually informing the village which protested vigorously. During this summer, actual tests on the line show that the Swiss train could, in fact, make the three stops in the time available. SNCF and SBB have therefore concluded that they can operate for the first six months as a trial period with stops at Morvillars. There will be 7 return services, daily, by the Swiss train between Delle and Belfort TGV station. Additionally, 7 more services will operate on certain dates.
The other difficulty is that, from the beginning of the project, the Swiss trains were excluded from operating to Belfort Ville, the town centre station. The reason for this is not known. It recently became apparent that an extra train set would be necessary if the Swiss trains continued for a further 10 minutes to Belfort-Ville. Thus, in order to complete the service along the new line, Bourgogne Franche-Comté TER will operate 10 shuttle services between Belfort-Ville and Belfort TGV and six return services from Belfort-Ville to Delle. We will report on the final timetable, later, when it is published.
So what do we not know yet ?
- tarifs are an unknown subject 5 weeks before opening.
- the full official timetable including Saturdays and Sundays and exceptions to the usual schedule
- a full timetable that shows the schedule on both sides of the border.
- who drives the Swiss trains in France ? French drivers or Swiss drivers.