THE French government has officially announced that the initial 52km Montpellier - Béziers section of the future Montpellier - Perpignan high speed line has received its “declaration of public utility” (DUP) meaning construction can now proceed.

The new line will shave 18 minutes off journeys between Montpellier and Béziers, which is part of the Paris - Perpignan - Barcelona and Marseille - Toulouse lines.

The new section will also free paths on the existing line to allow increased frequencies on regional passenger services.

Financing for the project was agreed in January 2022 while a special purpose body to oversee delivery, financing and project management was formed in March 2022.

Like the recent Nîmes - Montpellier and Perpignan - Spain sections, the future Montpellier - Béziers section will be a mixed-use line with capacity to divert freight off the conventional line. Construction is expected to be completed in 2034 with the Béziers - Perpignan section to follow by 2040.

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