11 December 2020

France’s first mixed high speed/freight line, which went into commercial operation on 10th December 2017, is celebrating its third anniversary. Its success is illustrated by the recent passing of the 2 million km mark on its rails!

Photos : Oc'Via - Yannick Brossard

On 6th November, a TGV Ouigo, which used the Nîmes-Montpellier Bypass (CNM), passed the 2 million km mark on this line. A success for this 80km line, an emblematic SYSTRA project in France.

Five years of collaboration

From 2012 to 2017, SYSTRA was involved in all the design and construction phases of this new line as leader of the integrated project management consortium. We worked for Oc’Via, which was responsible for the design of the line and its maintenance until 2037. CNM is financed via a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), as are the Tours-Bordeaux (SEA) and Le Mans-Rennes (BPL) lines. 

SYSTRA was present, from the feasibility studies to the validation tests, the site supervision and the drafting of the line’s entire safety dossier, one of the widest-ranging missions ever undertaken by the Group. 

98% of the commercial trains running on the CNM have not suffered any loss of time due to infrastructure defects, which is a testament to the robustness and reliability of the installations and the strong day-to-day involvement of the teams in charge of the maintenance of this line.

Kévin Uba, technical director of Oc’Via, the line’s infrastructure manager

In the service of sustainable multimodality  

What makes the CNM special compared with the other HSLs commissioned in 2017 is that it is a mixed line, the first of its kind built in France, capable of accommodating high speed trains (TGVs), regional express trains, and freight trains. It is therefore equipped with dual signalling (see Key features) so that all types of train, wherever they come from in Europe, can use it. A freight train inaugurated the line in December 2017. 

From the moment it was built, the sustainable nature of this new line was confirmed by the use of a bituminous sub-base layer, a bituminous base structure under the track that is economical in materials, quick to build, more vibration-absorbent, more stable and therefore more durable. Today, the CNM is participating in the full growth of TER links (+33% at peak times compared with 2015 in the region), and is desaturating the historic railway line to improve the regularity of daily trains and contribute to a modal shift in traffic from road to rail in commuter journeys.  

Since their introduction in July 2018, the TGVs have also benefited from better journey times (3 hours from Paris to Montpellier compared with 3 hours 20 minutes) and serve two new TGV stations inaugurated on the outskirts of Montpellier and Nîmes, designed as multimodal hubs. 

Find out more on this project at this link.

Key features 

Length: 80km (of which 20km are connection sections)
Dual signalling:
Lineside signalling (BAL) and beacon speed control system (KVB)
ERTMS Level 1 (European Rail Traffic Management System).
Maximum speed: 220km/h (upgradeable to 300km/h)
Ridership information:
Number of trains per day: between 50 and 60
Number of passenger trains per day: 24 TGVs

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