- Runs North of Paris to Lille, the Belgian border and the Channel tunnel
- Opened 23 May 1992
- Sees Eurostar and TGV Réseau trainsets
- Current operating speed: 300 km/h
GeographyThe Nord-Europe line is 333 km (207 mi) long, counting all the new track that was built. It begins 16.2 km (10 mi) north of Paris Gare du Nord, in the town of Gonesse, at which point it leaves the old Paris-Lille line. The first leg of the new line runs 198 km (123 mi) to the north, to a place near Lille, where it splits into two branches. The first branch runs to the Channel tunnel and London; the second to the Belgian border. Distance to Fréthun, where the line enters the Eurotunnel installations, is 111 km (69 mi) past the fork, while the Belgian branch runs just 12 km (7 mi) to the border. A better view is available in the map. In addition to these branches, the city of Arras was connected to the main high speed line with 10.7 km (6.6 mi) of new track.
TrackThe total length of newly laid track is 1350 km (839 mi). The rail is standard UIC profile, with a mass of 60 kg/m (40 lb/ft); it was laid down in 288 m (945 ft) or 396 m (1300 ft) lengths, and welded using the usual thermite process. There are 1666 hybrid steel/concrete cross ties per kilometer (2680 ties/mi), for a total of 1.125 million ties. The ties rest on 3 million tons of rigorously selected volcanic rock.
Currently, TGV trains are limited to 300 km/h (186 mph) on the Nord-Europe line; however, the track was built with the possibility of raising this speed to 350 km/h (218 mph) if need be. The track centers are 4.5 m (15 ft) apart, instead of 4.2 m (14 ft) on the Atlantique line, to compensate for the stronger blast between two crossing trains. The line profile is flatter than on the other TGV lines, with a maximum grade of 2.5 %. The normal curve radius is 6000 m (3.7 mi) and the tightest curves go down to 4000 m (2.5 mi).
The entire new line occupies 16.5 square kilometers of land (6.4 square miles), a figure which compares favorably with the amount of land occupied by the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris (31 square kilometers, or 12 square miles).
ConstructionThe entire line cost 18.5 billion FF in 1992; this figure includes station improvements at Paris-Nord, and the three new stations built along the line. To build the line, a lot of dirt was moved:
There are 10 high bridges, with a cumulative span of 5600 m (3.5 mi), 181 road bridges over the track, 138 bridges over roads, 161 bridges over water, and 560 culverts. The longest bridge is the viaduct over the Haute Colme canal, which measures 1827 m (6000 ft).
- 4.8 million cubic meters of topsoil removed
- 27 million cubic meters excavated
- 24.5 million cubic meters of fill
- 3.9 million cubic meters brought in for the roadbed
In addition to these necessary bridges, there are many environmental measures to protect the surroundings of the line from visual or noise pollution. These include 10.7 km (6.6 mi) of cut-and-cover tunnels, 41 km (25 mi) of dirt berms, 32 km (20 mi) of acoustic walls, 6 animal bridges where the line skirts a national forest, and several taod crossings. 15 percent of the cost of the project went towards these measures.