MARCH 15 is the closing date for tenders to built a 15 km light rail network in the French city of Le Mans, at an estimated cost of €290m. Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier and Stadler have already prequalified, and a group led by Semaly and Thales has been selected as project managers.

Public enquiries for the Declaration of Public Utility are due to be concluded at the end of April, and advanced works could begin as early as June. Project Manager Christian Coulombier from the local authority’s light rail project office expects full construction to get underway in January 2005, with the first section of line opening in early 2007.

The main line will run from the university district in the northwest via a private hospital complex, the city centre and the main SNCF station, which is to be remodelled as a multimodal interchange for bus, LRT and TER services at a cost of €45m. It would then continue south to Glonnières, Guetteloup and Antarès, adjacent to the race track. There will also be short branch to serve the eastern suburb of Sablons.

H February 7 saw the conclusion of the public enquiry for an 11·2 km light rail line in Ile-de-France, linking Villejuif, Rungis, Orly Airport and Athis Mons to the south of Paris. Included in the regional plan for 2000-06, the line would have 18 stations serving a corridor where over 300000 people are employed. Traffic is estimated at around 36000 passengers a day.

RATP expects to start work on the project in 2006 and open the line in 2009. Construction costs are estimated at €229m, excluding the planned fleet of 19 LRVs. Ile-de-France would fund 42·5% and the national government 25·5%, Val-de-Marne council 15% and RATP 17%.

On December 15 RATP began revenue operation on its 2·9 km extension of route T1 from Bobigny to Noisy-le-Sec, adding five stations and an interchange with RER Line E at the new terminus.