THE Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (Aura) region in France has announced that it is to invest €5.7bn in local rail services by 2035, with the aim of increasing service frequencies by 30% and growing traffic from 220,000 to 300,000 passengers a day.

The TER network currently operated by French National Railways (SNCF) subsidiary SNCF Voyageurs in the Aura region serves the principal cities of Lyon, Grenoble and Clermont-Ferrand.

Under the investment programme, €3bn will be spent on 130 new Alstom Régio 2N double-deck EMUs, which will provide an additional 60,000 seats a day.

The remaining €2.7bn will be spent on infrastructure, some of this to prevent the closure of minor lines which will require substantial upgrades. However, the currently closed Clermont-Ferrand - Mont-Dore and Thiers - Boën lines will not reopen.

A total of €42m will be spent on the southern section of the Paris - Clermont-Ferrand main line. Combined with the imminent delivery of new CAF EMUs, it is hoped that infrastructure upgrades will enable the journey time between the capital and Clermont-Ferrand to be reduced from over 3 hours to 2h 30min.

The Aura region is very enthusiastic about the French government’s policy of creating provincial RER networks for Lyon, Grenoble and Clermont-Ferrand. However, it points out that this will require several billion euros more than the €5.7bn it is providing for rail investment and is calling on central government to increase its funding contribution.

TER services around Clermont-Ferrand will be opened up to competition in 2028 and the region hopes that this will lead to a significant increase in service frequencies.

For detailed data on rail infrastructure projects in France, subscribe to IRJ Pro.