MAYOR OF Angers Jean-Claude Antonini announced on February 10 that the city had decided to adopt steel-wheeled technology for its north-south light rail line, after a study found that rubber-tyred alternatives were insufficiently proven.

The 16th largest city in France hopes to get planning approval for the 12 km route from Avrillé to La Roserie before the end of this year, so that three years of construction work can get underway in 2006. The route for the initial line was agreed in 2003, and studies are now in progress for a second route running east-west.

Cost of the first line is put at €200m, of which €25m will come from the government and €18m from Pays de la Loire region. The city expects to raise 40% by increasing its workplace tax from 1·2% to 1·8%, and the rest through commercial borrowings.

The first route is expected to serve 57000 inhabitants and 21000 workplaces. There will be 23 stops, including an interchange with the main SNCF station. A new bridge will carry the line over the Maine river.