FRANCE: Rail is at the heart of a programme of transport investment announced by Ile-de-France transport authority STIF on July 13.

Among the commitments outlined by STIF is the renewal or replacement by 2021 of 708 trainsets used on the five high-capacity RER suburban lines. According to STIF, this marks a substantial acceleration of previous rolling stock renewal plans, although no firm costs have been outlined. As a first step, by the end of 2016 refurbishment of trains on RER Line B will be completed and, subject to the completion of technical feasibility studies by operator SNCF, procurement of new double-deck trainsets for lines D and E will begin. In addition, STIF is to fund the purchase of more Bombardier Francilien EMUs for SNCF-operated suburban lines J and L while Bombardier is also to deliver a fleet of Regio2N EMUs for suburban Line N.

‘The primary lever for improving the efficiency of our suburban railways is to have a fleet of high-performance, modern and reliable trains’, explained STIF President Valérie Pécresse. ‘These 700 new and refurbished trains will significantly improve the service offering and better meet the expectations of Ile-de-France residents.’

STIF has also reaffirmed its commitment to the previously-announced project to extend RER Line E from Haussmann Saint-Lazare to Nanterre-La Folie by 2022 and Mantes-la-Jolie by 2024. A formal financial package worth a total of €3·8bn has been adopted by STIF, complementing the contracts awarded earlier in the year for construction of a new station at La Défense and the introduction of CBTC to be supplied by Siemens. The extension covers a total of 55 km, of which 8 km is new alignment in tunnel between Saint-Lazare and Nanterre. The remaining 47 km will use an existing railway rebuilt to accommodate more intensive RER services.

STIF has also agreed to take forward preparatory works for a number of other urban rail schemes. Following a public consultation, STIF favours developing the proposed western extension of the T3 tramway, while a funding package worth €20m has been agreed for preparatory works for the Tangentielle Ouest tram-train project. Sharing part of the formation of the existing Grande Ceinture freight line, this route would link Saint-Germain RER station with Saint-Cyr.

Also being progressed are proposed extensions at the western end of tram line T1 to serve the suburbs of Nanterre and Rueil-Malmaison. Following completion of a pre-feasibility study, STIF expects the plans to go forward for public consultation in the second half of 2016.

Other transport proposals agreed include revision of the fare structure and Navigo smart card payment system to bridge a €300m budget gap; STIF says this will support the rolling stock renewal programme. This will also be supported by a €225m loan facility it has finalised with Caisse d’Epargne Ile-de-France, Crédit Foncier and SaarLB.

STIF is also taking forward plans to build an urban cable car between Créteil and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and to complete two more intermodal park-and-ride hubs.