The delays were foreseen, they are now confirmed: the Société du Grand Paris formalized on Tuesday the delays of several lines of the future automatic metro in Île-de-France, and in particular of the sections which were to connect the sites of the 2024 Olympic Games.
Launched at the end of the 2000s under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, the “Grand Paris Express” will link over 200 km to dozens of suburban municipalities, the research centers of the Saclay plateau and the two Parisian airports of Roissy to the north and Orly to the south. The new schedule formalized on Tuesday now provides for gradual commissioning of the new lines between 2025 and 2030.
→ REPORT. Grand Paris express: the work of the century
One section in particular is eagerly awaited: part of line 16 on an arc crossing the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, north-east of Paris. Four years ago, President Emmanuel Macron had promised it again in the sensitive neighborhoods of Clichy-Montfermeil for 2024, in time for the Olympics.
More than two years late
But the new president of the Société du Grand Paris, appointed in March by the current power dissatisfied with the delays, could only admit the infeasibility of the calendar. Result: more than two years late. Scheduled opening “For the second half of 2026”, Jean-François Monteils told AFP.
The start of line 17, which was to lead to Le Bourget airport, where a district must be built to accommodate the media from around the world, suffers the same fate: it will not be ready before the second half of 2025.
The organizers of the Olympics had anticipated these delays, as part of their budget review, and moved some sites to more accessible places. For example the swimming events have been moved from Saint-Denis to Nanterre, well connected by public transport.
The main problem will be the Bourget media village. There will be routings of “Bus” planned for journalists but the organizing committee is now considering moving the press center.
Line 14 will be ready
Finally, only the extension of line 14 (which was the first automated line of the Paris metro and now crosses the capital) should be completed in time for the Olympics. Its new extensions will link the Olympic village, Pleyel, to Orly airport.
The one that the President of the Region, Valérie Pécresse, praises as “One of the most modern lines in the world” had already been extended to Saint-Ouen last December.
SGP officials had warned that the deadlines would be difficult to meet, and the Covid-19 epidemic is only one explanation for the delays among others. “It would be in single quotes if there was only the pandemic crisis, but honesty obliges to say that there is not only the pandemic crisis”, says Jean-François Monteils.
Among the difficulties encountered, he cited the removal of asbestos from the Aulnay-sous-Bois depot site, the difficulty of bringing in technicians from Germany to come to the bedside of the tunnel boring machines during containment and the consequences of the accidental death of a worker at Christmas, who forced a tunnel boring machine to stop for six months, during the investigation.
The schedule of the Grand Paris Express, whose trains were to be a showcase for the French group Alstom, suffered other upheavals, not all negative.
Some parts will arrive early (southwest), others late (south). The continuation of line 17, which should lead to Gonesse, where the creation of a station on agricultural land is debated, will wait until the second half of 2025, but it will reach the Parc des Expositions earlier than expected, in 2028.
Ultimately, the map will not move and the 200 kilometers remain confirmed for 2030.