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LGV Bordeaux - Spain. Northern Basque Country, France


LGV Bordeaux - Spain is a proposed high-speed line linking Bordeaux to Dax, with the aim of strengthening the Madrid Spain bound line from Paris France. The project is set up as a necessity due to the truck haulage that doubles every seven years on the Spain-Bayonne-Bordeaux highway (~10%/-year). It is projected as a link between the LGV Sud Europe Atlantique north and the Basque Y (Vitoria-Gasteiz-Bilbao/Saint-Sébastien link) to the south. It would be designed as a mixed TGV line/freight.

Currently, although it was supposed to be ready in 2020 the project has no established calendar. Indeed, a transport Comission (called Mobility Comission 21) has recommended to prioritise the Bordeaux – Tolouse line. If so, the Hendaye – Bordeaux line would be postponed.

Strong opposition to the project has been expressed in the Northern Basque Country in the very south of Aquitaine, a frontier region. After the Comissions announcement, the main organization opposing the project -CADE- stated that they will remain alert and that the announcement does not mean they will stop the protests. This organization is compounded by about 50 environmental organizations. They deny to be against trains, although they are against this project which in their opinion is badly planned, environmentally harmful and ruinous. They maintain that this project is one of Grands Projets Inutiles Imposees (Imposed and Useless Grand Projects) and that the current line can be upgraded at a much lower cost and impact.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:LGV Bordeaux - Spain. Northern Basque Country, France
State or province:Aquitaine
Location of conflict:Hendaye, Bayonne
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Tourism services
Transportation Services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Route not decided yet. Estimations of new railways between 950 and 2000 km.

Electrification: 25 kV - 50 Hz Rail width: 1.435 (normal)

Level of Investment:27,012,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:French Rail Network (RFF) from France - public Company
Relevant government actors:French Government.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Collectif des Associations pour la Défense de lEnvironnement (CADE).

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Genetic contamination, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Distraction manoeuvre: prioritising another high speed railway project.
Development of alternatives:Suggested proposals:
- Reopen the closed railway of Canfranc.
- Increase boat transport of good considering the facilities in Bilbao, St. Nazare and Dunkirk.
- Try to concentrate production processes in one area.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Currently, there is no clear outcome. However, the delay in the project could be interpreted as a small first success even if the reason behind could be mainly the lack of funds.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Charter of Hendaye. Joint declaration made by several EJOs opposing high speed railway projects over Europe.

Recarte, P. and F. Tellier. Les rails de la déraison. La très grande vitesse en Aquitaine et ailleurs.Nuvis Éditions, 2011.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Bizi (local EJO) website:

The project in Wikipedia:

CADE website against LGV (in French):

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Recent post about the LGV (Lignes à Grande Vitesse) line with two videos:

Meta information

Contributor:Alfred Burballa Noria
Last update18/08/2019