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Kevin Speed receives significant support from the regions

The new French operator will not be brought before the ART for the economic equilibrium test.

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Kevin Speed, the new French passenger operator, has received significant support from the four regions where it will operate its low-cost, high-speed Ilisto trains. Grand Est, Hauts-de-France, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes have decided not to refer the company’s project to the rail regulator, ART.

According to the operator, the regions consider that their services will not harm the economic balance of TER regional services, supported by public money. As the Ilisto trains will stop at all intermediate stations, Kevin Speed argues that they will complement the Mandatory Public Service trains.

This shows support for the project from the regional authorities responsible for the PSO trains.

The operator signed a 10-year framework path agreement with SNCF Réseau in February. Its promoters say it is the first in the French high-speed market.

With the signing of the framework, the operator has committed to buying 20 high-speed trains “designed in partnership” with Alstom. It will also build three rolling stock maintenance depots, creating 450 local jobs.

Kevin Speed’s Ilisto will start operating between 2026 and 2028

Following the first trial operations in 2026, the new operator plans to introduce Ilisto services on three routes by the end of 2028:

  • Paris Gare du Nord – TGV Haute-Picardie – Lille Flandres.
  • Paris Gare de L’Est – Champagne-Ardenne TGV – Meuse TGV – Lorraine TGV – Strasbourg.
  • Paris Gare de Lyon – Le Creusot-Montceau-Montchanin TGV – Mâcon-Loché TGV – Lyon Part-Dieu.

The signing of this contract was also the starting point of a new financing round in which Kevin Speed expects to raise €1.2 billion in debt and equity. This will be carried out by Nomura and Santander CIB, as well as Ernst & Young, which has worked on the company’s business plan from the outset.

Kevin Speed is the fifth rail operator, other than SNCF, with solid projects to compete in the French high-speed rail network. It joins Trenitalia France, which has been operating since June 2022, Renfe and the projects of LeTrain and Evolyn.

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