The idea of the TGV was first proposed in the 1960s, after Japan had begun construction of the Bullet Train in 1959. At the time the French government favored new technology, exploring the production of hovercraft and the Aérotrain air cushion vehicle. Simultaneously, SNCF began researching high speed trains that would operate on conventional track.
The TGV is France’s high speed rail network, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator. It was developed during the 1970s by GEC-Alsthom and SNCF. It was originally designed to be powered by gas turbines, the TGV prototypes evolved into electric trains. Following the inaugural TGV service between Paris and Lyon in 1981, the TGV network, centered on Paris, has expanded to connect cities across France and in adjacent countries. A TGV test train driven by Eric Pieczak set the record for the fastest wheeled train, reaching 574.8 km/h on 3 April 2007. A TGV service previously held the record for the fastest scheduled rail journey with a start to stop average speed of 279.4 km/h, which was surpassed by the Chinese CRH service Harmony express on the Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway in 2009.