FRANCE: Announcing a further package of measures to relaunch the economy on February 2, Prime Minister François Fillon revealed that an additional €300m is to be invested in the rail network.

Addressing the inter-ministerial committee charged by President Sarkozy with revitalising the economy, Fillon said that more than 1 000 investment projects will be launched during 2009. Only a small proportion will be rail-related, but the extra funding means that RFF will be able to increase its 2009 investment spending by €239m more than planned. Much of this is to be allocated to improving regional routes, including rural lines.

Under the performance contract agreed on November 3 2008, RFF is to invest €13bn by 2015 in improvements to the present network, with €1?5bn to be spent during 2009. The contract will also release funding that will allow high speed line construction to be accelerated, with four projects soon to be in hand simultaneously: the second stage of LGV Est from Baudrecourt to Strasbourg, LGV Sud-Europe from Tours to Bordeaux, LGV Bretagne-Pays de la Loire from Le Mans to Rennes and Sablé, and the Nîmes-Montpellier bypass.

Studies, preparatory works and land acquisition will get underway in 2009 for the first two schemes, paving the way for the main construction work to start in 2011.

Taken together, the performance contract and the economic relaunch measures amount to an additional €600m for RFF, which is increasing its total investment spend in 2009 from €2?8bn to €3?4bn.