FRENCH national operator SNCF planned to call tenders by the end of October for between 30 and 50 main line diesel locomotives to haul international freight traffic. According to Denis Martin, Senior Manager at SNCF's Rolling Stock Department, the need for these interoperable locomotives is 'very urgent'.

The urgency stems from the growing competition for international freight traffic in Europe now that the market is fully open. Among suppliers reported to be interested in the contract are Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens, Voith, Vossloh and US builders General Electric and Electro-Motive Diesel.

Fret SNCF is currently taking delivery from Alstom of 160 Class 460000 centre-cab locos for shunting and short freight workings, which are being built at the Vossloh plant in Spain. It has also received around 50 Class 475000 Bo-Bo diesel-electric locos ordered from Alstom and Siemens under a contract which, with options, covers up to 500 locos (RG 3.07 p145).