PASSENGERS commuting across central Paris on RER Line A were led to believe some time ago that overcrowding on the busiest section between Gare de Lyon and Auber would be eased when other cross-Paris rail arteries were opened. Since then, no less than three cross-city routes have been completed. Line D should have taken the pressure off the Gare de Lyon - Châtelet section, and a number of passengers using Châtelet - Auber should have diverted to éole, which provides a direct link from Nord and Est to St Lazare. The Météor Line 14 was also intended to relieve Line A.

It has not happened. According to figures released by the Syndicat des Transports d’Ile-de-France, Line A carried 8·7% more passengers last year than in 1999, with peak hour traffic of over 58000 passengers/h per direction now perilously close to the so-called ’critical threshold’ of 59000. Another 10 double-deck trains may help to absorb growth in the coming year, but true relief will only come when Météor is extended beyond its present western terminus at Madeleine to St Lazare. Work is in hand at a cost of Fr840m for completion in 2003 (p211). At the moment Météor is carrying around 170000 passengers a day, up from 120000 in 1999, but still below a forecast of 200000. n