RER E Ouest first train (Photo Christophe Masse)

FRANCE: On May 6 the first RER Line E train from Magenta-Gare du Nord to Nanterre-La Folie (Hauts de Seine) left platform 31 at 10.20 with fare-paying passengers onboard. Also on the train were Valérie Pécresse, President of the Île de France région and of Île-de-France Mobilités as well as Alain Ribat, Directeur Transilien at SNCF.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal

The 8 km largely underground extension forms part of the huge Éole project to take Line E from Haussmann-Saint Lazare to Nanterre-La-Folie. It had been officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou on May 3, with Valérie Pécresse also in attendance.

Until the end of this year, RER Line E services between Nanterre and Magenta-Gare du Nord will run every 15 min from 10.00 to 16.00. At weekends, the service is extended into the evening until 20.00. More trains will be added during the Olympic Games in late July and the first part of August, with a service every 12 min between Porte Maillot and Nanterre. In all cases, passengers making journeys to and from Chelles-Gournay or Tournan must change trains at Magenta-Gare du Nord.

The minimal level of service is explained by late deliveries of RER NG trainsets from Alstom, the first of which had entered service on November 13 last year. The six-car Z58000 sets were originally ordered from a consortium of Alstom and what was then Bombardier Transportation in January 2017. So far just 14 trainsets are available, but operator SNCF hopes to have 34 in traffic by the end of the year so that a full service can be run.

It has taken more than seven years to build the extension to Nanterre-La Folie, a Déclaration d’Utilité Publique having been granted as long ago as 2013. Completion of the project means that it now takes just 8 min to go from Saint-Lazare to La Défense.  As many as 650 000 passengers a day are envisaged on Line E once the full service is running, compared with 370 000 now. Intermediate stations are provided at Porte Maillot-Palais des Congrès and La Défense-Grande Arche.

A further western extension of Éole services over upgraded tracks to Mantes-la-Jolie in Yvelines is expected to be completed by the end of 2026, with work still in progress along the existing route from Nanterre via Poissy. Once these are complete, the trip by Line E services from La Défense to Mantes-la-Jolie is expected to take 40 min.

Led by SNCF Réseau, the Éole programme (Est – Ouest Liaison Express) is running more than two years late and the original budget of €3∙7bn has risen to €5∙4bn. The additional cost has been funded by the communes of Île-de-France and the région.

Line E will offer passengers an alternative to RER Line A, which suffers from overcrowding on the central section. When the Mantes-la-Jolie extension is completed, overcrowding on Line A is expected to reduce by 15%, with a 10% reduction on Line B and a 15% improvement on SNCF’s Transilien Line L between Saint-Lazare and Cergy le Haut.

An RER NG train formed of two sets will be able to carry up to 3 100 passengers, with around 1 000 seated. The end cars of each dual-voltage 1·5 kV DC and 25 kV AC set are single deck and the intermediate cars double deck.