Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron scrapped plans for a high-speed rail connection to Limoges, a city in central France. “This kind of project is essential for a city like ours,” said Thibaut, “We have nothing here — this would bring companies, jobs, tourism.” Officials in cities like Limoges, Orleans and Toulouse are looking for cheaper approaches to futuristic transport.

Local entrepreneurs are taking up the helm to appeal to startups with futuristic transport ideas, in the vein of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. Companies like TransPod and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies have shown some interest. TransPod’s technology is based on magnetic propulsion and electrified tracks, moving pods through a vacuum tunnel designed to reduce friction.