the modernization of the railway network of lines B and D of the RER at the stop

The theater coup took place on Wednesday, July 20. That day, Luc Lallemand, CEO of SNCF Réseau since 1er March 2020, meet the president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse (Libres!). The Belgian, a follower of expertise, has not cut corners: he wants to warn her that he cannot, as it is, launch the last act of the NExTEO offer, this 1 billion euro project to modernize lines B and D of the RER by 2030. There are strong technological risks around the semi-automation of these lines, and, by extension, risks of additional costs. For him, it is urgent to evaluate these before asking the producers to give their final price.

The news is bad for the region. Valérie Pécresse counts on improving daily transport to make her second term a success. However, in these lines, which between them carry 1.6 million passengers every day, every new delay is explosive. At the end of the summer, the electors convened an extraordinary board of directors of the Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM), the organizing authority of transport, for Tuesday, September 13, and summoned the CEO of SNCF Network to come and explore.

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“The tender call was already launched a year late, in 2020. The contract had to be signed at the end of this year.said Laurent Probst, the general manager of IDFM. We cannot finish in 2030 without semi-automation of the largest line in Europe. » François Durovray (Les Républicains, LR), president of Essonne – department served by both lines – and administrator of IDFM, is more direct: “Either Luc Lallemand gives explanations or he is no longer able to lead SNCF Réseau.”

NExTEO is a new train operating system as ambitious as it is essential, needed to improve traffic conditions on lines B and D of the RER. Passengers on these north-south lines in the Paris region are now living in hell. They no longer count the delays, incidents and repeated traffic interruptions. In short, what the passengers of the RER line A experienced before ten years of work has come to change the situation. In 2016, IDFM presented a program of 7 billion euros for these lines: new trains, renewed infrastructure (catenary, switching stations) and this technology, NExTEO, which allows more trains to run.

Three major difficulties

This new outbreak of fever between IDFM and SNCF Réseau reveals three major difficulties. The first puzzle is technological. The inauguration, on Monday, September 12, of three automatic shuttles on line 4 of the metro could suggest that the semi-automation of the RER B and D is within reach. But this leap forward is much easier to do on a line that runs in a tunnel or in a dedicated network than for trains that travel in a so-called open environment.

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