CONSTRUCTION of the long-planned high-speed line between Paris and Strasbourg will begin next year, with revenue services expected to start in 2005-06. On January 29 French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot signed an accord with other partners in what is now known as TGV Est-Européen. This sets out the funding for the 310 km first phase linking Vaires sur Marne near Paris and Baudrecourt in Lorraine. Three new stations will be built, known as Champagne-Ardennes, Meuse and Lorraine, offering interchange between the high-speed services and local public transport. At the meeting it was agreed that the line would be worked by a fleet of non-tilting TGV trainsets able to run at 320 km/h.

Total cost of the first phase is currently put at Fr20·5bn. Of this the state package will provide Fr15·7bn, leaving RFF and SNCF to contribute Fr4·8bn. Individual contributions to the state package are set out in the table. Planning work will continue on the proposed TGV Rhin-Rh