Paris metro MF19 train under construction (Photo Jeremie Anne)

FRANCE: Paris transport authority Ile-de-France-Mobilités and operator RATP have given the go-ahead for the automation of metro Line 13. This will be the fourth fully automated line in Paris, after lines 14, 1 and 4, and first with steel-wheel rather than rubber-tyred trains.

The 24 route-km line starting at Chatillon-Montrouge in the south and splitting into two branches to serve Saint-Denis-Université and Asnières-Genevilliers-Les-Courtilles in the north has 32 stations and is heavily used with 600 000 passengers per day.

The automation programme will be undertaken in two phases, starting with the delivery of five-car Alstom MF19 trainsets to replace the current Alsthom MF77 fleet from 2027. The new trains will be equipped for GoA2 automated operation, with a driver operating the doors.

The second step would be conversion to GoA4 unattended fully automatic operation, requiring the installation of platform screen doors and CBTC.

This will reduce headways between Chatillon and the junction at La Fourche from 90 to 85 sec.

The operator and authority expect the automation scheme to be complex because of the financial and operational constraints and the need to avoid closing the line for prolonged blockades. Work is to be undertaken over a 10-year period, enabling automation in 2035. The cost is put at €837m, to be funded by IDFM.

‘The decision taken by Ile-de-France Mobilités to automate Line 13 will greatly improve the quality of service for passengers, which is a priority for RATP’, said the operator’s CEO Jean Castex on December 9.

‘This automation will be the subject of an important social dialogue, is a major new technical challenge for the company’s engineering teams who will once again be able to demonstrate our global leadership in complex metro modernisation operations’, he added.

Meanwhile, Line 8 is also to be modernised in a €480m two stage programme, starting with the refurbishment of 44 MF77 sets in 2023-26 before they are replaced by new MF19 trains in 2030 with the deployment of CBTC to follow.