Eiffage has been selected as the preferred bidder on a € 3,4 billion public-private partnership (PPP) contract for a high-speed rail line in France.

French rail infrastructure company Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) shortlisted Eiffage for the 25-year contract to design, build, maintain and fund the Brittany-Loire Valley rail link.

The project is an extension of the existing high-speed line between Paris and Connerré, and aims to enhance rail links in western France by building 214 km of new rail lines, including 182 km of high-speed line.

French contractor Eiffage beat competition from rivals Bouygues and Vinci to secure preferred bidder status on the contract.

Hubert du Mesnil, chairman and chief executive of RFF, said the project was part of an ambitious modernisation programme for the westernmost regions of France.

"This large scale railway project will be one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe, a single 360-km link between Paris and western parts of France. The candidate selected submitted a competitive bid that will enable the State, local authorities and RFF to meet their financial targets," Mr du Mesnil said.

RFF said it hoped to sign the PPP contract in the first half of 2011, while the project is due for completion in autumn 2016.

The money to fund the project is being put up by RFF together with French State and regional authorities.

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