FRANCE: Following a finance agreement with STIF, the Ile-de-France transport authority, RATP intends to call tenders for replacement rolling stock on RER Line A.

At the end of June, RATP presented STIF with its proposals to procure an initial batch of 30 double-deck EMUs at a cost of €600m to replace the MI 84 fleet. However, STIF does not expect the project to be limited to the purchase of these 30 trains. The authority has agreed to make a 50% contribution towards the financing of a second order for 35 sets, to be placed 'in the short term' according to STIF, to replace the oldest rolling stock presently used on Line A, the MS 61 EMUs. In total, the programme could require an investment spend of €1·3bn, with the first of the new trainsets entering service by the end of 2010.

The decision to replace the rolling stock on Line A comes as RATP, STIF and SNCF face mounting pressure to improve the reliability and quality of suburban services around Paris. A €14bn programme to overhaul the region's transport infrastructure by 2020 has already been unveiled (RG 7.08 p410). The rolling stock renewal programme is intended to boost capacity on Line A by 30%; suburban services operated by SNCF will also see a major influx of new rolling stock in the shape of the Francilien fleet (p492).

H As part of the effort to create a more robust timetable, four trains on Line B ran through without the usual driver change at Paris Nord on July 7. The services, two crewed by RATP and two by SNCF, form part of a pilot project that will precede the removal of the mid- journey driver change. RATP hopes that this will allow 32 trains/h to operate at peak hours on lines B and D through the congested tunnel between Châtelet-les-Halles and Paris Nord.