FRANCE: Infrastructure manager RFF confirmed on July 21 that it had issued the final tender documents to the three bidders shortlisted for the ‘partnership contract’ to build LGV Bretagne-Pays de la Loire between Le Mans and Rennes. The three consortia led by Bouygues, Vinci and Eiffage have been given until mid-October to submit their best and final offers, with RFF expecting to select a preferred bidder by the end of this year.

After submitting their initial proposals on December 16 2009, the three consortia entered negotiations with RFF over the terms of the proposed partnership, and the infrastructure manager announced in April that all three would be invited to submit final bids.

Under the proposed PPP arrangement, the winning bidder will take charge of construction of the new line and maintenance for the life of the concession, whilst RFF will be responsible for putting together the funding package, and for managing operations when the line opens.

Awarded a Declaration of Public Utility in October 2007, the project involves the construction of 214 km of new line, of which 182 km will be for high speed. The route will run from a junction with the existing LGV Atlantique branche at Connerré, 20 km east of Le Mans, to Rennes, with a connection rejoining the existing line to Nantes. Completion of the line is expected to cut Paris – Rennes journey times by 37 min to 1 h 26 min, and reduce the Paris – Nantes timings by 8 min to 1 h 52 min.

RFF President Hubert du Mesnil said the announcement marked another step in the railway development strategy under the government’s Grenelle de l’Environnement., which envisages the construction of 2 000 km of new lines by 2020. Coming a few days after the award of the Tours – Bordeaux concession, it demonstrated that the PPP programme was proceeding on schedule. ‘RFF is pursuing with determination its mission to modernise and develop the rail network’, he insisted.