Published: 15th July 2015
The Fremch Railways (SNCF) station management subsiduary, Gares et Connexions has announced plans to upgrade and refurbish Paris Gare du Nord. The project is a long one and completion is scheduled for 2023 as the work has to be carried out in stages. Last year, the station celerated its 150th anniversary.
The scheme was revealed by SNCF President Guillaume Pepy and the Mayor of Paris Anne Hildago with the stated aim of creating more passenger space. Curently, the station is overcrowded with commuters, domestic passengers and long distance international travellers.
Somer work has already been undertaken but the main upgrade will start in the Autumn and last for four years. Once complete, another phase will start which will redevelop the immediate station vicinity to make the station more accessible in every aspect.
The project will improve connectivity with the rest of the station in what seems to be a copy of the Kings Cross and St Pancras modernisation project in London. In Paris at the moment, Eurostar passengers have to struggle through cramped station entrances and then the crowded concourse to reach the International terminal. Some work has aready been carried out but the main congestion busting project will start in 2016.
This end result will be the relocation of the Eurostar lounge to coincide with the introduction of the new German Siemens E320 trains which can carry more passengers than the existing 20 year old Class 373 Eurostar trains.
The works will include a new layout for the taxi rank and in 2017 and 2018, the main passenger concourse behind the platform ends will be remodelled but will retain the retail and other facilities. The floor will be upgraded with granite tiles and more use of natural lighting will be made via the 30 metre high glazed roof.
A Transmanche Terminal will be built for Eurostar passengers built over an existing roadway and taxi drop-off point situated between the station and adjacent railway offices. This will be covered with a glass roof while taxis are to be moved to the nearby Rue de Maubeuge.
For a period of five years starting in 2018, SNCF and its partners Wilmotte & Associés and urban design consultancy AREP will work on improving links between the the city and the station. Currently this is expected to open up access from all four station sides using walkways and escalators while banning road traffic from Rue de Dunkerque along the existing 180 metre long station forecourt.
Connections to the nearby Paris Est, a 10 minute walk away, will be upgraded so that when the Paris-Est becomes the terminus for CDG Express trains from Charles-de-Gaulle airport in 2023, changing stations will be made easier.
SNCF says that Gare du Nord is the premier European station serving the UK, Belgium, Holland and Germany with 2100 trains a day. The station was opened on 19 April 1864 and was the second station in Paris to open.
Electrification came to the station in 1958 but it was 1970 before steam services ended and another five years when the station officially became a historic monument. In 1981the underground station served by the now famous RER or Regional Express Route opened, as did the TGV Nord in 1993 and the Eurostars started operation the year later.
The current station was first enlarged 1877 with more platforms with further expansion in 1889 and 1900, associated with the grand trade exhibitions that took place at the time. The number of platforms increased to 18 in 1889 and to 28 in 1900. Passenger numbers increased from six million in 1875 to 10 million in 1889. Pasenger numbers will continue to grow as high speed rail increases and connectivity is made easier.