Publié le 02/08/2016 - Mis à jour le 30/03/2017
Passer la zone des réseaux sociaux

Complete disassembly and replacement of the railway components of the Narbonne-Montpellier line

The Montpellier-Narbonne railway line lies at the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon region and is situated on the major transit route of the Mediterranean Corridor. Large renewal works have been underway since early 2016. These works involve the complete replacement of the main components of the railway line. For example - the train tracks, railway sleepers and ballast.


June to December 2015

Replacement of track 1 (Narbonne to Montpellier line)

January to April 2016

Preparation of the work site and surrounding areas for track 2

25 April to 28 October 2016

Replacement of track 2 (Montpellier to Narbonne line)

From November 2016

Re-use of recovered material


The Narbonne-Montpellier line is 98 km long and serves 13 railway stations. The traffic on this line is relatively dense – every day 140 (TGV high-speed, Intercity and TER regional) trains travel on this line at an average speed of 160 km/hour. With time, the main railway components (train tracks, sleepers and ballast) must be changed to ensure optimal performance of the infrastructure.

The present works are part of the Network Modernisation Plan (NMP) for the French national railway system, and will provide several benefits:

  • Trains will no longer need to slow down as much, thereby improving traffic regularity
  • Enhanced passenger comfort due to a significant decrease in vibrations
  • Improved safety – all level crossings on this line are being renovated
  • Less costly upkeep and maintenance operations on this line in future years as there will be significantly fewer works.


To carry out this exceptional project (which is taking place at night), a special train, known as the factory-train, is performing the work in 4 stages:

  • Removal – the railway ballast is taken away
  • Substitution – railway sleepers and train tracks are replaced
  • Lifting – the train track is correctly positioned by adding more ballast
  • Destressing – the train track is prepared for the temperature variations to which it is subject                                                                 

Thanks to the factory-train, it is possible to renew 1,000 metres of track per day.


  • 98 km of new train tracks
  • 11,000 tonnes of train tracks to be renewed
  • 147,000 concrete railway sleepers (45,000 tonnes) to be replaced
  • 120,000 tonnes of ballast to be renewed
  • €115 million invested by SNCF Réseau
  • 400 workers, including 200 SNCF Réseau employees, involved in this renewal programme
  • 1,000 metres of train tracks replaced every night


Sustainable development is an important focus of this major project. All components recovered on the work sites, which no longer comply with SNCF Réseau technical requirements, will be treated and recycled by specialised firms.  


Following the planning phase of the project in 2012, a dedicated transport plan was developed for TER regional trains in collaboration with the Regional Council, in its capacity as the transport organisation authority. Adjusted train times were then included in the relevant timetables. All TER customers with train passes were notified of the time changes by email and text message prior to the start of the renewal works.

Travel times for TGV high-speed trains are also slightly longer when crossing the railway works area. In addition, there are temporary speed reductions. The times on the train tickets, which are only sold a few months in advance, already reflect the adjustments.


  • SNCF Réseau is the project leader and is therefore responsible for managing the technical studies, the financing and the project coordination.
  • Colas Rail-TSO is carrying out the renewal works.

Two parallel train tracks – one has just been renewed, while the other one has not been renovated yet.
Train tracks before and after modernisation