The French government has reopened the tender process for the Intercité train services on the Nantes-Lyon and Nantes-Bordeaux routes as part of its gradual liberalisation of the rail market.
The chosen candidate is projected to start services from 2027, the French Ministry of Transport stated.
These routes were previously opened for tender by the government but that process was dropped in December 2020, stymied by the Covid pandemic and the fact that the SNCF was the only candidate.
The government said at the time that these factors prevented “fair and equitable competition”.
Previously, Arriva, a British company and subsidiary of the national railway company of Germany, Deutsche Bahn, expressed an interest in taking on the services but did not in the end place a bid.
This was the same for Transdev and Eurorail.
The new call for tenders includes an option for candidates to develop a link between Nantes and Lille that would pass through Angers, Le Mans, Caen, Rouen and Amiens.
This new line would depend on the bids, the Ministry of Transport stated.