Infrastructure managers SNCF-Réseau, Eurotunnel, Lisea, and HS1 have signed an agreement to launch a feasibility study on measures needed to prepare Bordeaux Saint Jean station for international trains.

The study is set to lead the way for the development of a cross-Channel rail service between London and the French city with an open access route for an operator.

The partners will look into border control and security to allow passengers to commute directly from Bordeaux St Jean station to London St Pancras without having to change trains.

SNCF Réseau commercial director Arnaud Sohier said: “This cooperation between infrastructure managers marks our common will to set the foundations for the development of a cross-Channel rail service between London and Bordeaux.”

“This cooperation between infrastructure managers marks our common will to set the foundations for the development of a cross-Channel rail service.”

If approved by the study, travel time between the two European cities would be reduced to less than five hours.

The service would use the South Europe Atlantic high-speed line between Tours and Bordeaux, which opened last year.

Eurotunnel Railway Network director Jean-Pierre Ramirez said: “International travellers cherish the convenience of direct high-speed rail services. Following the success of London-Amsterdam, the introduction of such an offer between Bordeaux and London is set to become the market reference.”

Last year, air passenger volume between London and Bordeaux was more than one million.

It is estimated that a rail service on this route will draw up to 20% of air travellers.