ANNOUNCING the start of the tendering process for CDG Express, French Transport Minister Dominique Perben promised on July 24 that the €640m project for a dedicated rail link to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport will be funded ’without any contribution from taxpayers’, with the traffic risk borne by the private sector.

The project will be awarded to a private-sector concessionaire responsible for design, construction, finance and operation. Expressions of interest are due by the end of October, with a call for tenders to follow in January 2007. A public enquiry is planned for autumn 2007, and a contract is to be signed with the concessionaire in the first half of 2008. Target date for the launch of services is 2012, after which market share of rail traffic between Paris and the airport is forecast to rise from the present 22% to 40%.

Plans call for non-stop trains to run at 15min intervals, taking just 20min for the 32 km journey. The route will leave Paris Est in a new 700m tunnel to reach a pair of tracks parallel to RER Line B currently used by regional trains to towns beyond Mitry. Beyond Aulnay-sous-Bois CDG Express services will continue through Sevran-Livry to diverge at Villeparisis on to a new 8 km two-track line running alongside TGV Interconnexion. CDG Express services will terminate at a new station providing interchange to the airport peoplemover network due to open later this year; this will distribute passengers to the different terminals.

RFF will manage path allocation for CDG Express, with the possibility of offering spare paths to other operators. SNCF will be contracted as operator to the concessionaire, with responsibility for safety equipment, traffic management and provision of drivers. The project will be managed by the Direction des Transports Ferroviaires et Collectifs.

Perben also announced on July 24 that the government will contribute €10m towards a programme to modernise RER Line B.