Construction on the Grand Paris Express programme will begin by 2015, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has announced. The ambitious engineering project will vastly improve transport connections between central Paris and the city’s poorer suburbs, which lie outside the Boulevard Périphérique. This ring road has come to represent a physical and sociological barrier for those in the banlieues, leading to feelings of unrest and marginalisation exemplified by the 2005 riots.
The plan centres around a 200km system of driverless metro lines. 72 new stations will form an orbital network around the peripheries of Paris, connecting previously isolated and deprived areas with business districts and airports. Upon completion, it is claimed that 90% of Parisians will live within 2km of a station. Congestion in the city-centre will be greatly eased, and commutes from low-income communities – which can currently take longer than those from provincial cities benefiting from high speed rail services – will be dramatically reduced.
The first route of the “super metro”, Line 15, should be in service by 2020. Noisy-Champs and Pont-de-Sèvres will be connected as a result. Work will then proceed to extend the existing Paris Metro network in order to meet new orbital routes connecting Noisy with Le Bourget, and Massy-Palaiseau with Saclay. Line 14 of the Metro will extend southwards to Orly and to Saint-Denis-Pleyel north of the capital.
The programme, which will be carried out by the Société du Grand Paris, has a budget of €26b – significantly lower than original investment proposal of €38b. €7b has been set aside to modernise and extend existing metro lines and construct light rail routes, developments that will generate some 57,000 jobs. Ayrault also announced that the programme will create 15,000 indirect jobs each year until its scheduled completion in 2030.