The new line will serve as an extension of the existing TGV Atlantique from Paris to Connerré, 20km east of Le Mans, and will improve connections to western France. A connecting link that will by-pass Le Mans and intersect with the existing high-speed line at Sablé-sur-Sarthe for services to Nantes is also included in the project. Once work is completed in autumn 2016, journey times from Paris to Rennes will be slashed by 37 minutes, while trips from Paris to Nantes will be reduced by eight minutes.
Eiffage secured the contract ahead of Bouygues TP, and Vinci Concessions after bids were scored on cost, financial robustness, technical and environmental quality of the project, line construction times and involvement of SMEs. The PPP contract is expected to be signed in the first half of 2011, and will require the contractor to build and maintain the new line for the next 25 years.
"It will be a huge boon for the economic development and appeal of the regions concerned, which have joined forces with RFF in launching this major project," says Mr Hubert du Mesnil, chairman and chief executive of RFF. "The candidate selected submitted a competitive bid that will enable the state, local authorities and RFF to meet their financial targets."