The French national railway company, the Societe National de Chemins de Fer (SNCF) began planning its TGV system in the 1960s. The intention was to develop a high-speed train which, when combined with improvements in track and signalling infrastructure, would enable rapid rail travel throughout France. Testing began in the 1970s and in September 1981 the first passenger service, connecting Paris and Lyon, opened. In 1990 a TGV set a world speed record for a locomotive of 515.3 kmh (320.3 mph). Although the passenger services do not operate at anything close to the record speed, they do run at up to 320 kmh (200 mph). The TGV has become very popular and successful, recouping the original cost of the project within 10 years of commencing operations.
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