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PARIS

France scraps plans to revamp Paris’ rundown Gare du Nord station

France's national rail operator SNCF has scrapped plans for a controversial renovation of Europe's busiest train station, Paris Gare du Nord, in the run-up to the 2024 Olympic Games.

France scraps plans to revamp Paris' rundown Gare du Nord station
Gare du Nord station in Paris. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP

SNCF, which made the announcement late Tuesday, blamed the decision on “unacceptable” cost overruns. In July, the main contractor, Ceetrus, warned the final bill would be triple earlier estimates of €500 million.

The decision also comes after the contractor warned of “considerable” delays, meaning that the new station would not be ready for the Olympics as initially planned.

The SNCF subsidiary in charge of stations, SNCF Gares & Connexions, accused Ceetrus of “serious failure” and terminated its contract.

The project had aimed to triple the size of the station, from where trains depart to Amsterdam, Brussels and London, as well as destinations in northern France.

It is the first thing many tourists in Paris see, as it is the arrival point for both the Eurostar and the public transport connections from Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports into the city centre.

But it has long been slammed as dirty, crumbling, chaotic, confusing and a haven for pickpockets.

Paris city hall had fiercely criticised plans to turn the station into a major shopping and entertainment hub, saying it would be out of character with Gare du Nord’s multi-ethnic neighbourhood.

Well-known architects had also slammed the colossal project.

SNCF said it would carry out a “quick adaptation” of the station to welcome visitors both for the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics a year later.

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PARIS

Paris police rescue handbag robber from river Seine

Paris police on Tuesday fished a man out of the Seine river, which he jumped into after he rammed a car into a Valentino store and robbed dozens of luxury handbags.

Paris police rescue handbag robber from river Seine

The 24-year-old suspect smashed into the store around 2am on the high-end Rue Saint-Honoré, a police source said.

He grabbed as many as 30 luxury handbags and other items before attempting to flee in the car.

The man then failed to stop when a police patrol gave chase after spotting him near the central Paris Opéra.

He abandoned the car on Place de la Concorde at the end of the Champs-Elysées, the police source said, before plunging into the nearby river Seine.

But river police quickly fished him out and placed him under arrest.

A source familiar with the case said that the “entirety” of the stolen items had been found.

A second source told AFP that “around 30” handbags – which Valentino lists on its website at between €1,000 and €3,000 – were found in his car.

The suspect now faces an investigation for charges including aggravated robbery and refusal to comply with police, Paris prosecutors said.

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