Today we have seen SNCF launch its Ouigo operation which is essentially low cost high speed train services between Paris Ile-de-France and the South Coast (Marseille and Montpellier) via Lyon.
More info here:
What is interesting is that they really are following the model quite closely by using Marne-la-Vallee for Paris (interchange with RER A into central Paris) instead of Gare de Lyon in the city centre. Furthermore, we have the one bag and one class rule with specially fitted-out trains (several duplex TGV sets) to maximise capacity at the expense of such fripperies as the catering bar we see on regular TGV services.
The obvious targets are the most price-sensitive passengers, students and families in particular.
It wil be interesting to see how this works out. In England we have seen trains become fuller and fuller and advance fares competing while walk on fares have gone through the roof. Will Ouigo create a real two-tier market over time with TGV going upmarket and Ouigo becoming the mass choice? Or perhaps there will be a split TGV market with 1e classe TGV being a more defined luxury way to travel across France and then 2e classe focussing on walk on passengers still being able to travel at a moments notice?
Time will tell but we look forward to analysing the results of this…