A protocol of intent has been signed to finance the €2.4bn first phase of the new high-speed Montpellier - Perpignan passenger and freight line (LNMP), the missing link in the main high-speed route from France to Spain via Lyon and Nîmes.

The agreement was signed by French prime minister, Mr Jean Castex, the mayor of Montpellier and president of the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole conurbation, Mr Michaël Delafosse, and president of the Occitanie Region, Ms Carole Delga, on January 22.

The financing covers the first 52km section between Montpellier and Béziers, which is due to be completed in 2034, with a public inquiry now underway.

Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, which is already financing preliminary studies and land acquisitions, agreed on September 28 last year to contribute 3.5% (€85.5m) of the total cost of the project. The authority has also committed to financing the same share of Phase 2 from Béziers to Perpignan by 2040.

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