REVISED proposals for the planned express rail link between Paris Est and Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport were unveiled to local municipalities by Réseau Ferré de France on February 4. The target is to have the line opening in 2012, to support the Paris bid to host that year’s Olympic Games.

CDG Express is intended to cut the journey time between the airport and city centre to around 15 or 20min, compared with 30min for the present stopping service from Paris Nord on RER Line B.

The original proposal envisaged running from Paris Est alongside the existing main line to Noisy-le-Sec and then diverging northwards to run in a long 10m diameter tunnel below Bondy, Aulnay sous-Bois, Sevran and Villepinte, before picking up a surface alignment parallelling TGVInterconnexion into the airport station from the south.

Known as the ’Virgule’ from the shape of the line, the revised option would make use of the pair of conventional tracks alongside RER Line B. These tracks are used by regional trains to towns beyond Mitry-Claye and some freight services, but have not carried long-distance passenger services since the opening of TGV Nord. A 1·5 km tunnel below Porte de la Chapelle would carry the Airport Express trains from the planned terminal at Paris Est to reach the Mitry route near La-Plaine-Stade-de-France.

Rather than using the existing Line B branch into to the airport, CDG Express would continue on the conventional tracks as far as Villeparisis, from where a new line would be built alongside TGV Interconnexion to reach the TGV/RER station at Terminal 2.

By reducing the amount of tunnelling, RFF estimates that the Virgule route would cut the cost of CDG Express from €845m to €635m, although the length would increase from 14 km to 25 km. The infrastructure authority envisages that the private sector will fund between 75% and 95% of the project cost, recouping its investment from a premium fare of around €15. Around 8 million passengers a year are predicted to use the service.

If the revised proposal is approved by the Ile de France transport authority STIF, RFF will lodge an application for powers to build the line. It hopes to obtain a Declaration of Public Utility by the end of 2006, so that construction work could begin the following year.

CAPTION: The TGV Interconnexion station at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle is served by Thalys trains linking Brussels with the south of France