Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) has started negotiations with the group spearheaded by VINCI, in association with the Caisse des Dépôts and AXA, for the award of the concession for the high-speed line between Tours and Bordeaux.
The project, which will involve the construction of 340 km of new line, 302 km of which will be for high speeds, is a vital link in the European railway network. It is part of the bigger South Europe Atlantic project, later to be extended towards Toulouse, Spain and Limoges.
The aim is to place Paris at just 2 hours from Bordeaux by the end of 2016. The project is consistent with the undertakings of the Grenelle Environment Forum as regards the launch of 2,000 km of new railway line by the year 2020.
- 7.2 billion euros : one of the world’s largest public works projects
- 60,000 new jobs over the duration of the works (annual FTE)
- Europe’s biggest transport infrastructure project concession
- An exemplary project in sustainable development terms
Following the second round of the invitation to tender issued on 31 July, RFF received final bids from the three groups in the running, led respectively by BOUYGUES, EIFFAGE and VINCI, on 15 December 2009.
After making a thorough analysis of these bids under the control of an independent consultative committee and submitting proposals to its Board of Directors for approval at an extraordinary session on 29 March, RFF has decided to embark on further negotiations with VINCI. The criteria used in this selection included financial robustness, the amount of public investment required, technical quality and efforts in favour of sustainable development.
The aim is to sign a public-private partnership (PPP) contract between now and next summer. Should this fail to materialise, RFF reserves the right to re-open negotiations with the other bidders.
The funding arrangements for the project are based on a dual target. Of the 7.2 billion euros, a maximum of half this sum will be funded by public subsidies, split fifty-fifty between central government and local authorities in the five partner regions. The remaining funds are to be put up by RFF and the concessionaire.
By opting for a PPP solution and thereby being able to draw on the skills and resources of both enterprises and investors, RFF aims to combine performance with shorter completion times and efficient risk control.
The French Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea, Jean-Louis BORLOO, and the Secretary of State for Transport, Dominique BUSSEREAU, have welcomed this latest development, which will be vital in ensuring that work on building the new highspeed line can begin in 2011. Both placed emphasis on the fact that the project is consistent with one of the main undertakings of the Grenelle Environment Forum and on its substantial impact on employment at both national and local level. For RFF, one of the most demanding requirements imposed on the new high-speed line relates to sustainable development. At each stage of the project, RFF will be doing its utmost to minimise the impact on the human and natural environments and to create economic value.
The public works as such will provide jobs for 4,500 workers and managers, whilst railway equipment will employ a further 2,000 people. In all, the project will directly and indirectly create a total of 60,000 jobs throughout the life of the site (annual FTE). The concessionaire will have to undertake to ensure that at least 10% of all hours worked are reserved for jobseekers or those experiencing difficulty in finding employment. It will also be required to set up a socio-economic and environmental monitoring centre.
The new Tours-Bordeaux high-speed line will give the regions concerned a welcome boost, add to the attractions of the major towns and cities served and complete a further link in the European network. It will slice one hour off journey times between Bordeaux and Paris and connect with the existing stations in Tours, Châtellerault, Poitiers, Angoulême and Bordeaux. At a later stage it will link up with other major railway projects in South-West France (Bordeaux-Spain and Bordeaux-Toulouse) and with the Poitiers-Limoges high-speed line, all of which form part of the bigger South Europe Atlantic project.
For Hubert du MESNIL, Chairman of RFF : “This major construction project represents substantial progress in French policy on rail transport development in keeping with the undertakings of the Grenelle Environment Forum. RFF’s responsibility for the South Europe Atlantic project underpins its role in managing major domestic infrastructure projects. This key step towards the completion of the South Europe Atlantic project is the second large-scale PPP to be masterminded by RFF.”