FRENCH Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot, French National Railways President Louis Gallois and Reseau Ferré de France President Claude Martinand signed an accord on February 22 releasing funds for modernisation of the Paris - Orléans - Limoges - Toulouse main line.

A total of Fr1·6bn will cover improvements to the infrastructure and provision of six tilting trains. To be introduced in 2004, these will be TGV Atlantique trainsets converted to run at up to 220 km/h on non-TGV lines.

Paris - Limoges timings will be cut by 17min to 2h 30min, and the trip from the capital to Toulouse will take just 5h compared with 5h 41min now.

Line improvements will include strengthening power supplies, updating of catenary, resignalling and elimination of level crossings. The state will fund Fr630m of the total cost, with RFF paying Fr150m, SNCF Fr280m and the regions of Centre, Limousin and Midi-Pyrénées Fr530m.