FRANCE: Infrastructure manager RFF announced on April 27 that it had invited final offers from the three consortia bidding for the contract to build and maintain LGV Bretagne-Pays-de-la-Loire, with a view to naming a preferred bidder by the end of this year.Expected to cost around €3·4bn at current prices, the 214 route-km will extend the Le Mans branch of LGV Atlantique to Rennes, with a connecting link to shorten journey times on the route to Nantes. Three consortia led by Bouygues TP, Effiage and Vinci Concessions submitted their initial bids on December 16 2009; all three have now been accepted for the next stage in the process and invited to submit their best and final offers.According to RFF, the line will be the first to be developed under a new form of partnership contract. The winning consortium will be responsible for construction of the line using a package of public sector financing put together by RFF, and will then maintain the route for the life of the contract. The infrastructure manager will be responsible for managing its operation.A financing protocol between the French government, RFF and regional authorities in Bretagne and Pays-de-la-Loire was signed in July 2009. The project will also benefit from funding as part of the government’s national economic stimulus programme, allowing the work to be completed as quickly as possible.Welcoming the strong commitment from all parties, especially the local authorities, RFF President Hubert du Mesnil said he expected the final offers from the three bidders ‘to meet the high stakes of the project’.