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Paris - Le Mans in... Suite Rapide

Rapid renewal of Paris - Le Mans

GCF-Transalp's renovation site opened in Chartres.

Publicly announced back in February by SNCF, the French railway operator, the GCF-Transalp's construction site, which will be responsible for the railway renovation of the very important 420 000 Paris - Chartres - Le Mans line, has just opened.

An "exceptional" construction site, as it has been defined by several French newspapers that have dedicated entire pages to the event, "both for the magnitude of the work planned and for the type of machinery used: a 750-metre-long workshop-train called a 'suite rapide' that allows in a single step to lift the rails, replace the gravel, change the sleepers and fix the new track. There are only three of them in the whole of France, and they are able to deliver about 1,000 metres of renewed railway per day".

The rapid renewal work will focus on track 2 (track 1 is scheduled for renewal next year), on the section between the stations of Theil-la-Rouge and Chartres, from km 159+177 to km 89+518.

In figures: 64 km of completely renewed track, with the replacement of 128 km of rails, the laying of 107,000 concrete sleepers to replace the current wooden ones, and the treatment and replacement of 138,000 tonnes of ballast. The work, which will take place at night, with rail traffic on the adjacent track suspended, will last for five months.

SNCF's investment is substantial - 99 million euros - and will make it possible, after 50 years (the last maintenance dates back to 1971), to increase the performance level of the railway infrastructure, improving its safety conditions and optimising both the regularity of rail traffic and comfort for travellers.

The work, which employs 500 SNCF's employees and GCF-Transalp's workers on a daily basis, will be carried out in three phases in the direction of Paris: from La Ferté Bernard to Nogent le Rotrou phase 1 (from km 170+000 to km 146+000), from Nogent le Rotrou to La Loupe phase 2 (from km 146+000 to km 124+000) and, finally, from La Loupe to Chartres phase 3 (from km 124+000 to km 89+000).

Many safety measures and risk mitigation provisions have been put in place for the work, especially on the sections of the railway inside the numerous landscape and nature protection areas. Particular attention will also be paid to the 14 level crossings scattered along the section being worked on: many of them, in fact, will have to be completely demolished and rebuilt after the passage of the railway machines. Finally, special safety protocols have also been drawn up for the conduct to be followed inside the main yard, at Le Mans, where the powerful renewal trains, the ballast cleaner machine and the minor vehicles are stored and maintained, and where the rails, sleepers and ballast will be stored: the area was subjected to heavy aerial bombardment during the Second World War, and it is not excluded that some unexploded ordnance may still be found today.

The Suite Rapide construction site in Chartres, in the Eure-et-Loire department of the Centre-Valley of the Loire administrative region, follows closely on the heels of the Moulins site, completed a few days ago, where one of the two 'mobile factories' owned by GCF-Transalp has delivered 20,883 metres of renewed track along the 750 000 Moret - Lyon-Perrache line, between the stations of Bessay-sur-Allier and Saint-German-des-Fossés.

Chartres construction site, motion grafic synthesis

Below: a infographic distributed by SNCF to explain the operation of the railway renovation in Suite Rapide

202304 GCF SuiteRapide Infographic