WORK IS to begin this summer on the long-planned rail freight relief corridor through northeast France. The region of Lorraine has approved funding for its 35% stake in the €26·8m project, which will be matched by 50% from the government and 15% from RFF. The 150 km line between Longuyon and Toul forms part of a freight corridor between Antwerpen, Italy and Spain, and will relieve the parallel Thionville - Metz - Nancy main line (RG 11.01 p731).
Top priority is to enlarge four tunnels to UIC B+ loading gauge, and restore the 2·2 km cross-border link from Mont-Saint-Martin to the recently-electrified Athus - Dinant line in Belgium. Around 50 trains/day carrying up to 1500 tonnes each are expected to start using the route in mid-2004.
Work is to start in September on a €77m package of improvements to the Metz - Nancy line, allowing the Metrolor TER passenger service between Luxembourg and Nancy to be stepped up from two to three an hour in 2005. Lorraine has ordered nine new TER trains for delivery in 2003-05 at a cost of €63m, matching three being bought by CFL.