A NEW INVITATION to tender has been published for the concession to fund, build and operate the 45 km Perpignan - Figueres cross-border route, with bids due back by September 30. The French and Spanish governments hope to award a contract by the end of this year, so that work could begin at the start of 2004 on the route’s 8·2 km twin-bore tunnel under the Pyrenees.

The intergovernmental commission charged with awarding the contract had recommended a new round of tendering on April 16, reporting that no further progress could be made in negotiations with preferred bidder Euroferro (RG 8.02 p405). According to the commission, it had been unable to accept the latest proposals from the consortium of Dragados and Bouygues, which had been ’incompatible’ with the terms of the concession.

Studies undertaken by project office Sud Europe Méditerranée estimate the cost of the new cross-border link at €714m. It is expected to be used by 3·5million passengers in its first year of operation, and carry 4·2million tonnes of freight.