SPENDING on infrastructure modernisation in France looks set to rise with a government statement in late November that Fr8·7bn will be allocated to rail during the period 2000-06 under ’contracts’ agreed with the regions. Among projects due to get under way this year is a two-stage modernisation of the 385 km route from Clermont Ferrand to Béziers. The initial phase will include 25 kV electrification from Clermont Ferrand to Neussargues and track upgrading to permit 22·5 tonne axleloads. A funding deal for the work was due to be agreed before January 1 between the government, Réseau Ferré de France, and the regions of Auvergne, Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The second phase from 2007 would include re-electrification of the 1·5 kV DC section from Neussargues to Béziers, taking the cost to over Fr2bn.

Another project being evaluated is 25 kV electrification of the Paris - Basel main line from Gretz-Armainvilliers to Belfort. Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot has said the government will contribute Fr300m towards the Fr2·2bn scheme, and there is some prospect of a private-sector partnership with a consortium proposed by Alstom and electricity supplier EDF.

Electric traction took over services on the 37 km between Beauvais and Persan-Beaumont on November 28. Numerous rail projects are being considered for the Ile-de-France region in 2000-06. Around Fr25bn may be available for transport, and rail schemes may include extra tracks or a cut-off to add extra capacity on the main line between Mantes-la Jolie and Achères in the western suburbs of Paris. This could be married with accelerated work near St Lazare to allow trains from Rouen to run via Eole to the eastern suburbs and possibly Roissy airport. Other projects in the frame include Sartrouville - Noisy-le-Sec, a link from Pontoise to Roissy through the northern suburbs, and reactivation of the Grande Ceinture between St Germain and Massy. Tram projects are also envisaged, to provide more inter-suburb links.