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France announces €100bn plan to develop rail network

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
France announces €100bn plan to develop rail network
(Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced on Friday a vast rail development programme, valued at €100 billion, that will be rolled out over the next 20 years to make the train "a real alternative to the car" across France.

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The plan includes plans for better maintenance for the existing rail network, but also launching new lines including night train routes and expanding the commuter rail networks in cities.

Commuter rail networks in more French cities

Borne confirmed the government's goal to launch new commuter lines in "suburban areas and medium-sized cities" in France, which would add to existing urban rail lines and the TER (regional train) network.

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"The use of rail services will evolve, with more trains, at more frequent intervals, that are better serving areas where people live", Borne said.

"Our strategy must benefit all French people, wherever they live, from small towns to major cities".

This echoes previous statements made by President Emmanuel Macron, who said in November that he hoped to expand RER-like rail services to “the ten main French cities.”

READ MORE: Macron wants new suburban train network in France’s main cities

Investing in maintenance

The French prime minister explained that her goal was to make taking the train a "credible alternative to the car", and in order to do so the government hopes to increase investment in the existing rail network.

She laid out plans to pay out €1 billion per year over the next five years for the "renovation" of the network, and an additional €500 million per year for its modernisation".

The objective is for France's railways to offer users "more trains, with better punctuality and shorter journey times".

Night trains

In her speech, Borne referenced plans to relaunch France's night train network, but did not offer specific details on the subject.

MAP The proposed new routes for night trains in France

Collaboration with regional authorities

The Prime Minister said that the draft bill for the "nouvelle donne ferroviaire" (new rail deal) will include a budget of €100 billion, to be paid by the French state, "alongside the SNCF (national rail service), the European Union and local authorities".

Borne said that the French government will negotiate plans with local authorities, and that the next step for the project will be in March, when regional authorities will receive their terms for negotiation. The country will also launch an inter-ministerial committee to monitor the plan in the coming weeks.

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