THE REGIONAL government in Corsica has reached agreement in principle with French National Railways for a major upgrading of the 232 route-km network by 2005. Over €100m will be invested to cut 1h off the present 3h 40min journey time between Ajaccio and Bastia. SNCF has operated the metre-gauge network under contract since 1982. Last year it carried 930000 passengers and 1800 tonnes of freight.

SNCF President Louis Gallois envisages doubling the level of services provided, which would require a build of nine new panoramic diesel railcars, together with extensive modernisation of the existing fleet. Track and signalling would also be renewed, and 10·5 km of the former Porto Vecchio line abandoned during World War II would be reinstated from the junction at Borgo as far as Folelli.

A sum of €22·9m for investment was included in the 2000-06 contract-plan between the region and the government. Negotiations are now under way over methods to raise a further €83·8m.