PLANS TO finance French infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships are attracting attention, confirmed Transport Minister Dominique Perben on December 20, six days after RFF formally invited expressions of interest for its first scheme.The infrastructure manager is consulting on the PPP concession to design, install, operate and maintain GSM-R digital radio communications on the national network (RG 8.06 p430). RFF expects to fit around 14 000?route-km with GSM-R, of which 12 000?km would be equipped under the PPP. RFF began work itself last year on a pilot project to roll out GSM-R across the east of the country, which is due to be completed by mid-2009.Total value of the GSM-R concession is put at around k650m, of which the majority would be financed by the state through Afitf. According to Perben, the use of a PPP formula will allow the work to be accelerated by three years, with completion in 2012 instead of 2015.HHaving put together the funding package for LGV Est Europ?en, Claude Liebermann was appointed last month to undertake the same role for the N?mes - Montpellier bypass, which is expected to open in 2012. This line is now costed at k1?1bn, of which the French government will contribute k600m and the EU k110m. RFF will provide another k110m, with the rest to be raised through a PPP, for which consultation is to begin by the end of 2008.n