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In Aquitaine with GCF-Transalp's Suite Rapide

The fast renovation of the Bordeaux-Irun started.

New rapid renewal yard for the Bordeaux-Irun.

More than 450 workers at work for 175 nights. GCF-Transalp's "mobile factory" is back in the New Aquitaine region of France with a Suite Rapide yard that, launched on the night of Monday, August 28, will be busy until the end of January 2024 renovating the 650 000 Bordeaux - Irun line.

Closing on August 10, the rail renewal works along the 420 000 Paris - Chartres - Le Mans line (64 kilometres of completely renovated track); both the powerful Matisa P95 renewal train and the mighty Matisa C75-2C ballast cleaner reached the Laluque yard, the same yard that served as the base for GCF's first, pioneering Suite Rapide yard in France in 2013 for the Pau - Dax renewal.
Here, in addition to the shelter and maintenance stations for the major trainsets and high-efficiency machinery used in the Suite Rapide, materials needed for the complete renovation of the new line have since been stored: 150,000 tons of ballast, 125,800 TBA sleepers, 108,736 mt of new rails.

Planned work and operational phases

Works on the new Suite Rapide construction site-at night, under simultaneous suspension of rail traffic-will focus mainly along the double-track section between Gazinet stations on the outskirts of Bordeaux and Ychoux, as well as a section further south near Dax. Overall, 54,368 mt of complete renewal (ballast screed, in addition to track: sleepers and rails) and about 21,000 mt of line with new ballast and sleepers replaced will be delivered to the French railways.

The fast rail renewal works were organized in five operational phases.

Phase 1, between Lamothe and Ychoux, for track 1 renewal (from pk 44+124 to pk 74+851: 20 km of total renewal + 10 km of ballast and sleeper renewal). Phase 2, between Lugos and Lamothe, will deal with track 2 (pk 62+629 to pk 44+097) for a total of about 14 km of total renewal and about 4 of ballast and sleeper renewal. Concentrated between Biganos and Marcheprime (in the direction of Bordeaux) is Phase 3, which will fully renovate about 4.5 km of track 2 (from pk 28+791 to pk 37+764) and, for a similar length, will replace ballast and sleepers, maintaining the existing rails. Phase 4, as an extension of 2, will operate on track 2 between Ychoux et Lugos (from pk 74+829 to pk 62+725) providing for the integral renewal of almost the entire section. Less extensive, but more complex, given the presence of 4 level crossings, the section being worked on in phase 5, between Laluque et Dax (from pk 136+193 to pk 144+000), for the renewal of ballast and track (for about 3 km) and the replacement of ballast and sleepers for about 1,500 mt.

Prevention of fire risk

Since the railway line being worked on almost entirely lies within the boundaries of a Natural Park (the Parc naturel régional des Landes de Gascogne), particularly strict measures are taken by the Management of GCF-Transalp Renouvellement to comply with the restrictions provided for in the regulations - in particular the July 7 Decree - for the protection of forests, woods and heaths especially from the risk of fire.
Specific training courses have been administered to workers and, in particular, to teams engaged in sensitive activities, such as rail welding. Additional fire extinguisher equipment has been distributed to the work teams while trains and work convoys have been equipped with suitable hydrants with tanks of at least 1,000 litres.

In addition to the safety and mitigation measures taken to deal with the sources of risk commonly found in rail yards (blue zones, level crossings, line access roads, etc...) a targeted emergency response module was finally dedicated to deal with the possibility of accidental encounters with vipers, which are not uncommon within the park.

GCF-Transalp at work at Lamothe construction site