The Mont Cenis Railway connects Turin via the Fréjus tunnel with Lyon. For many years the only international passenger trains are the TGV from Milan via Turin and Lyon to Paris. These are quite expensive, especially for travellers with Interrail or Eurail passes. From September 10, 2017 the Piemont region has introduced regional trains across the border once again. These trains run on Sundays only from Turin to the French border station of Modane. There you can change to TER trains to Lyon. If this trial is successful daily trains could be introduced from December 2017.
Turin to Lyon by TGV High speed Train
Currently there are three pairs of TGV running from Milan via Turin to Paris. From Turin all of these trains take the Mont Cenis Railway to get to Chambéry in France. From there, the three TGV take different routes to get to Paris:
- the first TGV takes the route via Lyon St Exupery Airport, then travel non stop to Paris
- the second TGV travels via Aix-le-Bains and Bourg-en-Bresse to Paris
- the third TGV makes a stop at Lyon Part-Dieu in the city centre before continuing to Paris
You can buy tickets for all of these trips from Trainline or SNCF. Tickets are available from 29€ in 2nd class and from 39€ in 1st class if booked well in advance. If you want to go to Lyon take the direct TGV or travel with regional trains from Chambéry to Lyon Part-Dieu. If you are travelling with a rail pass (Interrail or Eurail) you will have to buy an extra seat reservation. This reservation is quite expensive and is available from 28€ in 2nd class and from 30€ in 1st class for travel from Turin to Lyon. Milan to Paris is available from 31€ in 2nd class and 45€ in 1st class. These reservations can be bought online from SNCF.
Turin via Modane to Lyon by regional train
As mentioned before, the TGV high speed trains have been the only passenger trains through the Fréjus Rail Tunnel between Italy and France. From September 10, 2017 the Piemont region of Italy is funding a trial for introducing regular regional trains across the border once again. During the trial, Trenitalia will operate regional trains from Turin Porta Nuova station to Modane every two hours on Sundays. These trains connect with TER regional trains operated by SNCF running from Modane via Chambéry to Lyon. That way you can now travel with your Interrail or Eurail pass without any extra costs from Turin to Lyon. You can also get a regional train (RV or "Regionale Veloce") from Milan to Turin and change there to get to Lyon without having to get an extra reservation.
If the trial operation turns out to be successful (eg if there is enough demand) the regional trains from Turin to Modane could be running daily from the timetable change in December 2017. Meanwhile, you can also travel on this route during the week without paying the expensive reservation fees for the TGV. Simply take a regional train from Turin to Bardonecchia, the last stop on the Italian side of the tunnel. From there, buses run across the border to Modane. These buses are not included in Interrail, you have to pay 2,70€ per trip. Tickets are available in the bus.
You can find the schedules for the regional trains (including the buses, too) from Turin to Bardonecchia and Modane and the TER schedules from Modane to Chambéry and Lyon as PDF files here:
With the help of these PDF timetables you can find your individual connection. Unfortunately, the extended regional trains from Turin to Modane are not yet included in the databases of plan.rail.cc or the Rail Planner App.
If you have any questions about travelling on that route, feel free to write a comment. And you can also reach us in the railcc forum.
Update: September 2017