FRANCE: Infrastructure manager RFF announced on February 13 that it had selected a preferred bidder for the first major PPP project on the French rail network. The tDF consortium has been chosen to negotiate the final details of a 15-year concession to fund and install GSM-R across the network.

The consortium was chosen from a shortlist of four as ‘the most advantageous candidate in terms of meeting the criteria set out in the consultation documentation’. As well as leader TDF Group, the consortium includes Vinci Energie, Vinci Concessions, telecoms group SFR and finance partner AXA Investment Managers Paris.

Subject to the publication of a ‘décret en conseil’, RFF still hopes to conclude the concession by the summer of 2009. The PPP calls for GSM-R to be installed across 14 000 route-km by 2014. Valued at around €1bn, the contract is split by value into two broadly equal parts — one covering capital investment, the other operations and maintenance.