Could the high-speed rail link between Paris and CDG airport be about to hit the brakes?

Could the high-speed rail link between Paris and CDG airport be about to hit the brakes?
Photos AFP
Opponents believe the €2 billion allocated to a “train for the rich” should be given instead to the struggling RER B line that already goes to the airport.

It doesn’t seem Paris’s highly anticipated Charles de Gaulle Express will be leaving the station anytime soon. 

Valerie Pécresse, President of Ile-de-France’s Regional Council, has asked the French government to postpone the controversial high-speed project given “the urgent need to improve the RER and Transilien commuter lines” first. 

Pécresse, who is also the head of IDF Mobilités, the authority that controls and coordinates the different transport companies operating in the Paris area, will put CDG Express’s deferment up for a vote on Wednesday.

The state-of-the-art project, given the go-ahead back in 2014, was meant to give Parisians and tourists a faster, more exclusive option for getting to CDG airport by train in just 20 minutes. 

But soon after the initial hype commuters on the delay-prone RER B that runs from Charles de Gaulle to the southern Ile-de-France communes of Robinson and Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse started to feel left out as well as priced out, given that the Express ticket is forecast to cost €24. 

RER B travellers number 900,000 daily compared to the prospected 20,000 for the CDG Express. Their commute is twice as long as CDG Express’s and their travel is often marred by day-long service cancellations, regular delays and overcrowded carriages.

In a petition signed by nearly 7,000 people, RER B users are calling the €2 billion budget for the construction of the CDG Express to be allocated to improving their line, the second busiest in Europe .

Pécresse also raised the matter of whether the high-speed line could actually be built in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics as planned, and whether in doing so it would “degrade the quality of service on the RER B, H, K, E and P lines”.

“Even if the benefits of the CDG Express for the appeal of our region are real, the construction work involved in this project with its current schedule could permanently deteriorate the daily life of millions of French people,” she told journalists.

“The 900,000 daily RER B passengers must take priority”. 

The CDG Express is planned to run from Gare de L'Est, rather than the nearby Gare du Nord station that currently connects the airport to the city by the RER B.

Tourists and airport passengers have long complained about the lack of a direct fast link between the airport and the centre of Paris.

They may well be complaining for a long while yet.


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