PLANS to cut 30 min off the Paris - Genève journey moved ahead on January 31 when the French Ministry of Transport issued a Declaration of Public Utility for the reconstruction of the Haut Bugey line between Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellegarde.

Upgrading and electrification of the single-track branch and construction of a new chord at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine will shorten the route from Mâcon to Genève. The cut-off was identified as a priority in the government’s 2003 review of infrastructure projects (RG 4.03 p179).

Finance for the Haut Bugey line has been included in this year’s €635m budget of transport infrastructure fund AFTIF, which should enable work to get underway during 2005. Further funding will come from the Swiss government’s programme to invest in links to the European high speed network. The SFr1·3bn package was approved by the National Council of the Swiss parliament in December, and a first tranche of SFr665m was authorised on January 11.