Following public consultation and a review by the Mobility 21 Commission, the French government announced last November that it plans to develop three new sections of railway which it says will increase capacity and cut journey times on the Paris – Rouen – Le Harve and Paris – Caen corridors.

The priority will be a new line bypassing the most congested section of the existing route between Paris St Lazare and Mantes-la-Jolie, followed by a new link north from Rouen to Yvetot on the line to Le Harve. French Rail Network (RFF) says these two sections will relieve bottlenecks on the existing route and separate long-distance passenger traffic from freight, regional, and suburban trains.

These sections will be linked to a third new stretch of line between Mantes and Evereux on the line towards Lisieux and Caen.

The first phase of studies will begin this year and will identify a preferred corridor for the three priority sections to within 1-3km of the final alignment, together with an economic impact assessment of the project. These studies will be completed by the end of 2016.

This will be followed by the selection of a final alignment and a public inquiry, with the aim of achieving public utility status by the end of the decade.

The cost of studies required to reach the public utility stage is estimated to be around €60m, and the government has already allocated €38m to the development of the Paris – Mantes section.

The steering committee says it plans to launch a new website for the project within the next few weeks.