RFF project progress

Posted: 3 November 2005 | | No comments yet

Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), the owner and manager of the railway infrastructure in France, is a publicly-owned entity, responsible for the management and development of the rail network and prime contractor for new lines, especially new high-speed rail links.

Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), the owner and manager of the railway infrastructure in France, is a publicly-owned entity, responsible for the management and development of the rail network and prime contractor for new lines, especially new high-speed rail links.

Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), the owner and manager of the railway infrastructure in France, is a publicly-owned entity, responsible for the management and development of the rail network and prime contractor for new lines, especially new high-speed rail links.

The major rail projects promoted by RFF meet the need to achieve sustainable development while re-establishing a balance between the various means of transport. They are long-term projects, requiring some considerable time between the initial studies and completion of the construction work. The design, study and pre-project stage lasts for four to seven years and a project then takes between two and six years to complete. In addition to the studies specific to each stage, these major projects include periods of public debate and discussion. There are also administrative procedures to be completed before the Government can take the necessary decisions.

An overview of major projects

The East European LGV (high-speed train service, Phase 1)

This project will come into service in June 2007. Work is currently underway on an initial stretch covering a distance in excess of 300km between Vaires-sur-Marne on the outskirts of Paris and Baudrecourt in the east of the Moselle Valley, where the high-speed rail link joins the current Paris-Strasbourg line and the link to Forbach. Three new stations are planned along this new route – ‘Champagne Ardenne’ near Reims, ‘Meuse’ halfway between Bar-le-Duc and Verdun and ‘Lorraine’ between Metz and Nancy. The reduction in travel time will be enormous. For example, it will take only 45 minutes to travel from Reims to Paris, halving the current time. The Paris-Strasbourg trip will take two hours 20 minutes in 2007 instead of the present four hours. The second construction stage covers the section of line between Baudrecourt and Strasbourg and on towards Germany. When this is completed, it will take one hour 50 minutes to travel from Strasbourg to Paris.

The Upper Bugey Line

This line will decrease travelling time between Paris and Geneva by 20 minutes thanks to the re-opening of the line between Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellegarde, which includes a single-track section between Bourg-en-Bresse and Montréal la Cluse used by regional (‘TER’) services and a section between Brion, Montréal la Cluse and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine which has been without a train service since May 1990. This new route is 50km shorter than the route currently taken by trains travelling via Ambérieu-en-Bugey and Culoz. The entire section of line between Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellegarde will be modernised and equipped with crossings. A new station will be built in Bellegarde, as a hub enabling passengers to transfer to other methods of transport. Work is scheduled to begin at the end of 2005. It will be completed by the autumn of 2008.

The Eastern section of the Rhine-Rhône LGV

The section of line between Mulhouse and Dijon will see work begin in June and the line is scheduled to be opened at the end of 2011. This Eastern line will link Genlis near Dijon to Lutterbach near Mulhouse. The first stage will cover the route between Auxonne and Petit-Croix, i.e. 140km of totally new line out of a total of 189km. When the new line opens, it is intended to run 60 high-speed trains (TGVs) a day, at a speed of 320kph. The plans for this line include two new stations, to be built jointly with the SNCF in Besançon and Belfort-Monbéliard. As for the present station at Besançon-Viotte, it will be linked to the new LGV service by upgrading an existing line.

The deviation around Nîmes and Montpellier

This was declared to be a project of public interest in May 2005. It is a totally new line designed for ‘mixed’ traffic (high-speed passenger service and freight) and will extend the LGV Méditerranée service that began operating in June 2001. It will carry some of the traffic to Spain, via the Perpignan-Figueras link that the French Government granted to the TP Ferro Group and that is due for completion in 2009. The project includes the new Manduel-Lattes line and the freight link to the line running along the right bank of the Rhône. The deviation, covering a distance of 70km, will include several other links to existing lines.

The Southern Europe/Atlantic LGV

This will extend the current LGV between Paris and the south of Tours as far as Bordeaux. The first stage was brought into service in 1989; the extension will be built in two stages, the first covering 121km between Villognon (north of Angoulême) and Bordeaux, and the second between Tours and Villognon. The French Government wanted both stages to be completed within a fairly short time frame. The first stage involves a public enquiry in 2005, a start on construction work in 2008 and the opening of this section in 2013. The entire line is scheduled to be operational by 2016. In all, this means building a total of 302km of new line. The aim is to cut travelling times between Bordeaux and Paris to two hours 10 minutes compared with three hours at the present time and to free up new train paths on the traditional route, mainly with a view to developing the freight service.

The Brittany / Pays de la Loire LGV

This will see the extension of the Atlantic LGV from Conneré in Sarthe to Rennes, the capital of Brittany. It is expected to be declared in the public interest in 2006 and work is expected to begin in 2009. The LGV project – which was launched in 1994 as a result of earlier discussions – should free up capacity on traditional lines and allow for improvements in regional passenger services (‘TER’) and freight traffic. The plans include the construction of a high-speed line over a distance of 200km between Connerré (where the LGV currently ends) and Rennes, improving travelling times between Paris and Brittany by 40 minutes, and between Connerré and Sablé which, linked to the upgrading of the existing line between Angers and Nantes, will save a further seven minutes on travelling times between Paris and Nantes. The towns of Le Mans, Sablé and Laval will all be connected to the LGV service.

Line possibilities

The company is also continuing to look into possibilities for the section of the Lisbon-Madrid-Lyon-Turin-Trieste-Ljubljana-Kiev project that crosses the Alps and is studying the proposed deviation around Lyon.

Two public debates took place in 2005 – one considered the extension of the LGV project in the Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur region to Nice, while the other focused on the extension of the Paris-Bordeaux LGV to Toulouse.

Three public debates will be held in 2006 to discuss the following:

  • The projected LGV between Poitiers and Limoges
  • The project for a new high-speed line between Paris, Amiens and Calais
  • The project to extend the Paris-Bordeaux LGV to the Spanish border.

EAST LGV: future’s on line

Thierry Jankowski, Communication Officer, East LGV, Réseau Ferré de France (RFF)

Work on the construction site is on schedule for the European East High Speed Line (the ‘East LGV’) that will connect Paris and Strasbourg in two hours and 20 minutes. As the major earthworks and civil works will be finally completed by October 2005, RFF started the laying of railway equipment in October 2004. RFF’s objective is to launch the service in June 2007.

A first step for a European compatible network

The route of the East LGV has been designed by RFF to enable trains to reach a speed of 350kph. When the new line is brought into service in June 2007, the East LGV will be operated at a speed of 320kph, an increase of 20kph compared to current speeds. The European East high-speed trains will be the fastest in France. In addition to the traditional signalling system known as TVM 430, the Line will be equipped with ERTMS level 2 using a digital train radio based on the GSM-R technology. SNCF and DB plan to operate international trains using ERTMS on the Paris / Frankfurt corridor.

A multi-facetted project

Other technical developments are implemented through the East LGV project, all of them synonymous with progress and high quality. For example, the fast-clips, already used in other countries, will replace traditional ‘screw-in’ clamps. Fast-clips equipment is quite elastic and also ensures perfect contact between rails and sleepers. Thanks to them, coupling torque can be regularly inspected by video in order to cut the cost of maintenance without any risk whatsoever. For the same reason, the new line will use grease-free points and switches, install CCTV or intelligent sensors and carry out ad hoc testing of track assemblies on single-blocks sleepers or on a grave bitumen or concrete platform.

For RFF, East LGV not only completes the French national rail network, it is also a new railway rush that will pave the way of the future rail network throughout Europe.

One line, three purposes

The East LGV will:

  • Provide a direct line between Paris and the centre of 20 towns in Eastern France
  • Provide a direct link between the East of France and the North, West and South-West of the country.
  • Open up a new network of European relations with Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland.

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