France is one of the largest and most important European countries, with Paris the capital and largest city. France was the first European country to develop a true high speed rail network, with the "TGV" trains.

The railway system is most commonly abbreviated as SNCF, which stands for Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais, or French National Railways.

The goal for this page was to describe the typical train operations by track numbers at France's largest stations, as is done with other European countries. Many SNCF services operate on hourly memory patterns, but many services operate with less regularity. Thus not many definite patterns could be found for track assignments in the stations. The major stations in France are thus covered in more general terms. For all of these stations, English language Wikipedia links are included, containing further information and history. The French word for station is gare.

French National Railways - official SNCF Web site, English home page.

The passenger rail network is largely based around Paris, with the main routes radiating from Paris described in the page covering the Paris stations.

Cartographie TGV - page on a fan web site including schematic track layouts of main lines in France. Web site is in French, but nevertheless is generally easy to understand without knowing the language. Including numbers of main tracks and electrification voltages.


Information on the main railway stations serving Paris.


Information on the main railway stations serving the largest cities outside Paris.

SNCF Explained
In 1938, the railways of France became Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais (SNCF).

TGV stands for Train a Grande Vitesse, or High Speed Train. While LGV stands for Ligne a Grande Vitesse, or High Speed Line. France was the first European country to develop a true high speed rail network. Additional French National Railways services include TER (Transport Express Regional) and IC (Intercites). The Paris area in addition is served by the RER (Reseau Express Regional) trains, Reseau meaning network.

Main lines are electrified at 25,000 volts AC in the north of France, and at 1,500 volts DC in the south of France, overhead. In recent years, SNCF and other European railway systems have been constructing entirely new railway segments for high speed operation. Something which unfortunately has been severely lagging in the U. S. Amtrak's fastest trains are the Acela trains between New Haven and Boston. But those trains still use the same curvy New Haven right of way, with few segments capable of handling high speed operation. The new SNCF high speed segments use 25,000 volts AC, even in southern France where the established lines use 1,500 volts DC.

The French National Railways mostly use left hand operation. One notable exception is the Alsace region near Strasbourg, which was part of Germany at the time the railway network was developed. Railways in that area thus use right hand operation.