SNCF has awarded Alstom a €37m contract to refurbish 48 Corail B6Du regional coaches, with options worth about €18m for a further 30 vehicles.

The coaches currently operate in loco-hauled rakes of four to eight cars, and will be converted into driving vehicles for push-pull operation. Crashworthiness improvements will permit an increase in the maximum speed to 200 km/h.

The conversion work will be carried out at Alstom’s Reichshoffen plant, with cab equipment coming from Tarbes and controls from St Ouen. SNCF’s Romilly workshops will refit the passenger areas. Each coach will have six second-class compartments, luggage and bicycle space, a disabled-accessible toilet and a drinks vending machine.

The first two driving cars are due to be rolled out in October, and the refurbished trains will return to service in 2006-08 for use in Alsace, Rh