FRENCH Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot joined RFF President Claude Martinand and SNCF President Louis Gallois at Saint-Chély d’Apcher on October 13 to mark the start of work on upgrading the Clermont-Ferrand - Neussargues - Béziers line. Participating in a renewal programme running from September 4 to October 20, the minister made the final joint to complete the installation of continuous-welded rail on the 14·5 km between Saint-Chély and Loubarasse.
The state and the regions of Languedoc-Roussillon, Auvergne and Midi-Pyrénées are providing Fr400m for electrification from Clermont-Ferrand to Neussargues and Fr285m for track modernisation between Neussargues and Béziers (RG 1.00 p6). Once threatened with closure, the line will form a diversionary freight corridor to relieve the route via Lyon, Nîmes and Montpellier.
- On September 27 the SNCF board approved the purchase of 22 TGV Duplex 10-car trainsets from Alstom and Bombardier for Fr2·86bn, with options for up to 80 more. SNCF currently has 30 sets in service and 12 on order. The extra 22 are due for delivery between October 2002 and November 2003.