The French government is to prioritise investment at key rail hubs outside Paris.
Reflecting what Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne terms ‘a national priority’ to improve access to rail services outside the Paris region, €2·6bn is to be spent on enhancing capacity at key hubs to support ‘greater rail use in cities, improved links to medium sized towns and improving transport connectivity in semi-rural areas’. Borne has set a target of doubling rail’s modal share ‘for daily journeys in and around the largest urban centres’, reflecting ambitions already outlined by municipal and regional authorities across France. Of the €2·6bn allocated for this, half is to be funded directly by the national government with rest coming from SNCF, the regions and other sources.
From 2022, a further €200m per year will be allocated to digital railway initiatives, covering enhancements such as ETCS installation on the Paris – Lyon high speed line and work to reduce asset failures on the Marseille – Nice corridor.
The ministry statement also stresses that while its core focus is ‘every day transport’, the government is not ‘in any way’ turning its back on ‘major new rail infrastructure projects between cities’. It endorses the conclusions of the Duron report that these should be taken forward ‘in a phased manner’ in line with other capacity enhancement works.