Proxima: France’s First Independent High-Speed Train Operator Launched with Substantial Backing

In a landmark development for French rail travel, Rachel Picard and Tim Jackson, supported by Antin Infrastructure Partners, today announced the launch of Proxima, France’s first independent high-speed train company. This innovative project aims to enhance the country’s rail capacity, offering an additional 10 million seats per year and responding to the growing demand for sustainable and rapid inter-city travel.

Expanding High-Speed Rail Connectivity

Proxima will initially connect Paris with key cities in western France, including Bordeaux, Nantes, Rennes, and Angers. These routes have seen substantial demand growth, driven by economic development, increased leisure travel, and demographic shifts. By addressing this demand, Proxima is set to transform the travel experience with a focus on customer needs and evolving travel behaviours such as teleworking and the integration of business and leisure travel.

Strategic Partnerships and Financial Backing

Proxima’s ambitious project is underpinned by a significant financial commitment from Antin Infrastructure Partners. With 31 billion euros of assets under management, Antin is a leading infrastructure investor globally. The initial phase of Proxima’s development will involve an investment of approximately one billion euros, covering the purchase and maintenance of rolling stock, operational launch costs, and working capital requirements.

High-Tech Fleet and Maintenance Facilities

Proxima has entered into an agreement with French manufacturer Alstom for the acquisition of 12 state-of-the-art Avelia Horizon high-speed trainsets, with potential for additional orders. These trains, known for their increased capacity, customizable design, and energy efficiency, represent the future of high-speed rail. The first train is expected to begin dynamic testing in early 2027.

To ensure top-tier maintenance, Proxima has also secured an agreement with Lisea for the use of its new maintenance depot in Marcheprime, near Bordeaux. This facility will be central to the upkeep of Proxima’s cutting-edge fleet.

Leadership and Vision

Rachel Picard and Tim Jackson bring a wealth of experience and expertise to Proxima. Picard, Proxima’s General Director, emphasized the societal and environmental motivations behind the project: “We want to help the French public take the train more, by offering them an alternative solution, which is easy, quick, and integrated into their new lifestyles.”

Jackson echoed this sentiment, highlighting the strategic partnerships and commitment to green mobility: “We are happy to embark on this entrepreneurial adventure with first-rate, French industrial partners, to build a robust and quality offer, and further accelerate the development of green mobility in France.”

Alain Rauscher, Chairman and CEO of Antin Infrastructure Partners, expressed confidence in Proxima’s success: “The great knowledge of the French market brought by Rachel Picard and Tim Jackson, the partnerships concluded with Alstom and Lisea, and Antin’s expertise in financing infrastructure projects are the winning combination that will make Proxima a success.”

A New Era for French Rail Travel

Proxima’s launch marks a significant milestone in French transportation, promising enhanced connectivity, sustainability, and customer-focused travel solutions. With robust financial backing, strategic industrial partnerships, and experienced leadership, Proxima is poised to revolutionize high-speed rail travel in France.