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Citizen today, April 2011 - Paris: transporting Grand Paris - EY - Global

Citizen Today, April 2011

Paris: transporting Grand Paris

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"Exploiting and developing the numerous attributes of the capital region to allow France to maintain its position in terms of international competition: this is the real aim of Grand Paris.” -- Maurice Leroy.

Summary: Paris may thrill and enchant visitors from around the world but, like so many other cities, it needs to upgrade its transport network to safeguard its future prosperity. Here, French leaders Maurice Leroy and Jean-Paul Huchon talk about “Grand Paris,” a €32b investment program that will transform the journeys of commuters and tourists alike.

Introducing Grand Paris

Grand Paris, a plan to develop Paris into a model super-city is made of three elements:

  • Sustainable development
  • Improved housing
  • Better transportation between Paris and its suburbs

French Minister for Urban Affairs Maurice Leroy says that transportation is the most important element for three reasons.

  1. Improve the quality of life for commuters
  2. Citizens want their government to work together for progress, and this is an opportunity to do so
  3. It will be the backbone of the entire Grand Paris project

Revolutionary change

Chairman of the Regional Council of Île-de-France Jean-Paul Huchon says the project will be a “revolutionary change” for French transportation.

“We are going to allocate €12b for modernizing the transport network, relieving the pressure on individual lines, improving the regional RER orbital train line routes and constructing new modes of transport, such as tramways,” he says.

“We will also invest more than €20b in delivering the future automatic métro system. This system, which will link important business and residential areas such as Versailles and the Charles de Gaulle Airport, as well as the suburbs, will be made up of a new train line approximately 140km in length that will operate 24 hours a day.”

Economic boost

The economy is at the heart of the transportation project. Government leaders believe a modern and effective transport network is fundamental to strong economic development.

“It is perfectly true that the next key chapter of the Grand Paris project is economic development and creating jobs,” says Leroy.

“In fact, we aim not only to boost economic development, but also to improve employment, housing and the quality of life in general around the capital. The transport network will be a framework around which the peripheral areas will develop to create a city of the 21st century, the global city envisaged by the French President.”

Vision for the future

The passion that Leroy and Huchon have for both the project and Paris itself is unmistakable. “Paris is a magical city for the whole world, the City of Lights, swathed in history and prestige,” says Leroy. “However, in terms of development, nothing can be taken for granted. International competition is fierce, and numerous areas are emerging worldwide, enjoying incredible growth.”

With construction having already started, the timeline for the project is ambitious — but deliverable, believes Huchon, with the first new line operational in 2017.

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