The London to Paris journey would take under two hours, according to the Air France plan that would use a new generation of high-speed train on the route from St Pancras. Trains would operate at maximum speeds reaching 224mph, which is 38mph faster than the top Eurostar speeds.
As tightened financial conditions have hurt airlines, with softened demand for seats, high-speed rail services have become increasingly popular. Eurostar passenger numbers rose by 18 per cent in the first six months of 2008.
Eurostar has said that it welcomes competition on the route and that interest from air carriers “had been expected.” It added, however, that airlines had “a lot to learn” about the rail business beforethey would be competitive.