ON JULY 13 the Communauté d'agglomeration Reims Métropole signed a €1·4bn turnkey contract with the Alstom-led MARS consortium for construction of an 11·2 km light rail line, and for the operation of trams and buses in the city over 30 years from January 1 2008.

The Mobilité Agglomération Rémoise consortium brings together Alstom Transport with civil engineering firms Bouygues Travaux Publics, Colos Pertuy Construction and Quille, operator Transdev and engineering consultants Pingat and SNC-Lavalin. Finance for the concession is being provided by Caisse d'Epargne Champagne-Ardenne, Caisse des Dépôts and IXIS.

MARS is expected to build the light rail line for €282m. Alstom will supply the 18 Citadis 302 LRVs, which are to be delivered from October 2009 ready for opening towards the end of 2010. The initial route will have 22 stops. MARS has already proposed an extension of the line to Bezannes, which would link the city with the new Reims-Champagne station on TGV Est.

Citing a desire to minimise visual intrusion in the historic city centre, CAR has decided to specify the APS ground-level third rail power supply system for 2 km of the route. This makes it the third city to adopt APS, following the pioneering work in Bordeaux and an order from Angers announced just two days earlier.

Valued at €45m, the Angers-Loire contract is split into two parts. The first covers LRV design and supply of a mock-up plus APS equipment for the initial 12 km route. The second part, to be exercised following the anticipated approval of the Déclaration d'Utilité Publique in July 2007, covers the supply of 17 Citadis cars. Linking Avrillé and Roseraie with 25 stops, this line is expected to open in 2009.