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Charles de Gaulle express train: Summer closures on RER B scrapped

The new high-speed link between Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and the city centre will be ready for 2025 - not 2024, the French government confirmed on Wednesday, meaning there will be no need for those pesky long summer closures.

Charles de Gaulle express train: Summer closures on RER B scrapped
Photo: AFP
The direct rail link between Charles de Gaulle airport and Gare de l'Est is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2025, one year after the Olympics, France's Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne has announced. 
 
This is the final episode in a saga which has seen disagreements between political heavyweights over the programme for the ambitious construction project. 
 
Valérie Pécresse, president of the greater Paris transport network Ile-de-France Mobilités had declared that the previous deadline of 2024 – which would see the work finished in time for the Paris Olympics – was “radically untenable”.
 
French ministers were then asked to vote on two possible options.
 
Paris: High-speed rail link to CDG airport WILL be built, government insistsPhoto: AFP
 
The second option – the one chosen by French ministers – will see parallel tracks to the current rail lines built, which has the advantage of limiting disruption to passengers, but means the project will not be finished until the end of December 2025. 
 
Valérie Pécresse and other elected officials in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France unanimously voted for this option. 

 
Option one was to press ahead with the 2024 deadline and open the link in time for the Olympics.
 
However, this would have necessitated much more disruption on the network and for a period of three weeks over the summer 2022 and another three weeks in 2023, the current RER line B service would have had to close completely.
 
This would have meant that everyone who currently uses it to get to and from the airport, plus commuters to and from northern Paris suburbs like Drancy and Aubervillers, would instead have been on buses.
 
It is estimated this would have added 200,000 to 300,000 people to the bus network and would require buses leaving Gare du Nord every two minutes.
 
Ile-de-France Mobilités had admitted that this would “worsen the already problematic punctuality of RER B”.
 
To get to Charles de Gaulle airport passengers can currently either take a taxi, a bus or get the RER B train service from Gare du Nord station.
 
Some of the RER B services are direct to the airport and take roughly 35 minutes, while other services stop at local stations along the way and can take 45 minutes. The service is often hit by delays and strikes.
 
The 32km trip on the planned CDG Express will take 20 minutes and cost €24, more than double the current cost of getting to the airport by RER train. 
 
The project has been controversial because it is essentially replacing a service that already exists, albeit in a slower form, and critics have said that the money could be better spent improving services for the whole of the Paris area.
 
However the government insists that a better airport link will in fact benefit the whole of the Ile-de-France area.

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LIVING IN PARIS

‘You’re better off sleeping in your car’: How Paris is plagued by scourge of bed bugs

The bed bug infestation that is worsening across France has left hoteliers and residents in Paris struggling to find a remedy to a problem that leaves them often out of pocket and out of home.

'You're better off sleeping in your car': How Paris is plagued by scourge of bed bugs
Photos: AFP

If the last thing on your mind when staying at a glitzy Paris hotel is having to worry about getting bitten by critters, think again. 

A Paris hotel group head has admitted that even high-end hotels in the French capital are affected by a pest infestation that’s getting worse across France. 

France’s bed bug problem has seen the number of cases go from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years.

In 2018 alone, there were 100,000 bed bug infestations in Paris, according to the French Union for Pest Control (CS3D), a scourge that is now also affecting the capital's hotel industry. 

As one TripAdvisor user commented about their stay in a Paris hotel last November: “Bed bugs, no handling of the matter and no treatment. You’re better off sleeping in your car”.

“It’s traumatizing hotel managers, we talk about it among ourselves, but timidly” Jean-Marc D'Orx, general president of Ile-de-France’s Hotel Union, told Le Parisien.

“The hotelier is a victim in this kind of case. It's not that the hotel is dirty, but it has welcomed people who have brought the bed bugs with them.

“When a room is infested, you have to change all the bedding, the mattress, the bed frame, it can cost anywhere from €300 to €10,000 depending on the category of the hotel.

Aside from these big financial losses (not fully covered by insurance according to D’Orx) and the effect bed bugs can have on a hotel’s reputation, hotel managers also have to close their establishment until new beds have been delivered and pest controls carried out.

In fact, since 2018 any landlord with a rental property in France that’s found to have bed bugs or any other parasite infestation (cockroaches, rats etc), has to cease letting it out, or face a fine of €50,000 to €100,000 for not doing so.

“In Canada, pest control treatments are mandatory when a tenant departs, but unfortunately this is not the case in France,” French housing and social inclusion group Si Toit Lien told Le Monde.

This has resulted in countless unwitting tenants in France having to deal with a serious health and housing problem from the moment they move into their new home.

According to the French Union for Pest Control, 92 percent of French people have at some point found pests in their homes. 

But bed bugs – called ‘punaises de lit’ in French – aren’t just being found in beds.

“It’s horrible, even when you’re sure they’re gone you see them everywhere,” a north American reader in Paris who asked to remain anonymous told The Local.

“The cinemas have a problem with them so you start avoiding places.

“You throw out everything that’s part of your bed including the mattress, even though they say all you need to do is wash beddings at 90degrees and it should be fine.

“The pest control guy I got was great. It cost €450 for him to come three times to fumigate. The main problem at my place was the carpet.

“So on top of the cost of fumigation there’s also the expense of staying a night or several nights at a hotel, which often has to happen.

“The fumigator told me bed bugs were by far his biggest business, way above cockroaches and mites, and that he couldn’t keep up with demand despite not advertising.

“The French blame Americans for bringing them over…I got them from an American friend who travels a lot. Bastard.”

The Local's Paris based editor Ben McPartland said: “A neighbour in my block just dumped their mattress in the street after realising it was teaming with bed bugs. They were everywhere. It was stomach-churning.”

Bed bugs are 7mm-long insects that feed on human blood, usually at night. Their bites can result in skin rashes, allergic reactions and psychological trauma for the person trying to sleep.

After having almost disappeared in the 1950s, bed bugs (Latin name Cimex lectularius) have proliferated in France in recent years.

READ MORE: Are American's really behind the bed bug explosion in Paris?

 

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