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Express Paris to CDG airport link gets go ahead

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Travellers to and from Charles de Gaulle airport will no longer have to squeeze onto packed RER trains. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP
09:05 CET+01:00
It's the news that expats and regular visitors to Paris have long been waiting for. A new high speed rail link between the centre of Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport has finally been given the green light. But there are downsides to the new scheme.

The journey to and from Charles de Gaulle airport from the centre of Paris on the notoriously unpredictable RER B has long been a source of complaint for visitors and expats alike. But the reasons for our grumbling will soon be over. 

After many years of hesitation, France's government has launched a €1.7-billion ($2.3 billion) project to link Paris to its main international airport, Charles de Gaulle, with an express train that will go into operation in a decade's time.

Although the high-speed link will mean airport travellers will be spared the ordeal of packed RER B trains, the new airport trains will presumably not be immune to the strikes that have also been a source of distress for travellers.

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier said construction on the eight kilometres (five miles) of track needed to join up to the existing rail network will begin in 2017.*

Once complete in 2023, the CDG Express, as the link will be known, will speed travellers non-stop along the 32 kilometres (20 miles) between the capital's central Gare de l'Est railway station to the airport in just 20 minutes.

That is twice as fast as the existing suburban train that stops along the way, and which is often overcrowded and stalled by technical problems.

A one-way express ticket is projected to cost 24 euros ($33), compared with less than 10 euros for the suburban train.

"That price is in the average for what you see around Europe," one of the minister's aides explained.

Ticket revenue will be used to reimburse the cost of building the link. The government is also looking at possibly tacking on a euro to airline tickets through Charles de Gaulle to also contribute to the cost.

The CEO of the Aeroports de Paris company that runs the capital's airports, Augustin de Romanet, said the project was now "irreversible" and would boost the attractivity "of one of the most important airports in Europe".

Some 62 million passengers passed through Charles de Gaulle airport in 2013, and an estimated eight million of them used the suburban train to get to or from Paris.

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Readers of The Local France have been reacting to news of the airport link on Twitter, where it has gone down well, despite the long wait before it is scheduled to open.

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