Originally posted 2016-12-06 16:10:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The Paris Metro or Métropolitain (French: Métro de Paris) is a rapid transit system in the Paris Metropolitan Area. A symbol of the city, it is noted for its density within the city limits and its uniform architecture, influenced by Art Nouveau. It is mostly underground and 214 kilometres (133 mi) long. It has 303 stations, of which 62 have transfers between lines. There are 16 lines, numbered 1 to 14 with two lines, 3bis and 7bis, which are named because they started out as branches of lines 3 and 7; later they officially became separate lines; the Metro is still numbered as if these lines were absent. Lines are identified on maps by number and colour, and direction of travel is indicated by the terminus.
It is the second busiest subway system in Europe, after Moscow Metro, and the tenth in the world. It carried 1.541 billion passengers in 2012, (up from 1.524 billion in 2011), 4.210 million passengers a day. It is one of the densest metro systems in the world, with 245 stations within the 86.9 km2 (34 sq mi) of the city of Paris. Châtelet – Les Halles, with 5 Métro lines and three RER commuter rail lines, is the world’s largest metro (subway) station. In 2016, it has been ranked as the best public transport system in the world by the ITDP with 100 percent of people in the city of Paris having an easy access to rapid transportation, ahead of 26 other international cities (including London, New York City and Tokyo).
The first line opened without ceremony on 19 July 1900, during the World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle). The system expanded quickly until the First World War and the core was complete by the 1920s. Extensions into suburbs and Line 11 were built in the 1930s. The network reached saturation after World War II with new trains to allow higher traffic, but further improvements have been limited by the design of the network and in particular the short distances between stations. Besides the Métro, downtown Paris and its urban area are served by the RER developed from the 1960s, several tramway lines, Transilien suburban trains and two VAL lines, serving Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports. In the late 1990s, the automated line 14 was built to relieve RER line A.
1960–1990: development of the RER
Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station on the RER A, inaugurated in 1970
The network grew saturated during the 1950s. Outdated technology limited the number of trains, which led the RATP to stop extending lines and concentrate on modernisation. The MP 51 prototype was built, testing both rubber-tyred metro and basic automatic driving on the voie navette. The first replacements of the older Sprague trains began with experimental articulated trains and then with mainstream rubber-tyred metro MP 55 and MP 59, some of the latter still in service (line 4 and 11). Thanks to newer trains and better signalling, trains ran more frequently.
The population boomed from 1950 to 1980. Cars became more popular and suburbs grew further from the city. The main railway stations, termini of the suburban rail lines, were overcrowded during rush hour. The short distance between metro stations slowed the network and made it unprofitable to build extensions.
The solution in the 1960s was to revive a project abandoned at the end of the 19th century: joining suburban lines to new underground portions in the city centre as the réseau express régional (regional express network) (RER).
The RER plan initially included one east-west line and two north-south lines. RATP bought two unprofitable SNCF lines—the Ligne de Saint-Germain (westbound) and the Ligne de Vincennes (eastbound) with the intention of joining them and to serve multiple districts of central Paris with new underground stations. The new line created by this merger became line A. The Ligne de Sceaux, which served the southern suburbs and was bought by the CMP in the 1930s, would be extended north to merge with a line of the SNCF and reach the new Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy. This became line B. These new lines were inaugurated in 1977 and their wild success outperformed all the most optimistic forecasts to the extent that line A is the most used urban rail line in the world with nearly 300 million journeys a year.
Because of the enormous cost of these two lines, the third planned line was abandoned and the authorities decided that later developments of the RER network would be more cheaply developed by SNCF, alongside its continued management of other suburban lines. However, the RER developed by SNCF would never match the success of the RATP’s two RER lines. In 1979, SNCF developed line C by joining the suburban lines of Gare d’Austerlitz and Gare d’Orsay, the latter being converted into a museum dedicated to impressionist paintings. During the 1980s, it developed line D, which was the second line planned by the initial RER schedule, but serving Châtelet instead of République to reduce costs. A huge Métro-RER hub was created at Châtelet-Les Halles, the world’s largest underground station.
By 1845, Paris and the railway companies were already thinking about an urban railway system to link inner districts of the city. The railway companies and the French government wanted to extend main-line railroads into a new underground network, whereas the Parisians favoured a new and independent network and feared national takeover of any system it built. The disagreement lasted from 1856 to 1890. Meanwhile, the population became more dense and traffic congestion grew massively. The deadlock put pressure on the authorities and gave the city the chance to enforce its vision.
Prior to 1845, the urban transport network consisted primarily of a large number of omnibus lines, consolidated by the French government into a regulated system with fixed and unconflicting routes and schedules. The first concrete proposal for an urban rail system in Paris was put forward by civil engineer Florence de Kérizouet. This plan called for a surface cable car system. In 1855, civil engineers Edouard Brame and Eugène Flachat proposed an underground freight urban railroad, due to the high rate of accidents on surface rail lines. On November 19, 1871, the General Council of the Seine commissioned a team of 40 engineers to plan an urban rail network. This team proposed a network with a pattern of routes “resembling a cross enclosed in a circle” with axial routes following large boulevards. On May 11, 1872, the Council endorsed the plan, but the French government turned down the plan. After this point, a serious debate occurred over whether the new system should consist of elevated lines or of mostly underground lines; this debate involved numerous parties in France, including Victor Hugo, Guy de Maupassant, and the Eiffel Society of Gustave Eiffel, and continued until 1892. Eventually the underground option emerged as the preferred solution because of the high cost of buying land for rights-of-way in central Paris required for elevated lines, estimated at 70,000 francs per metre of line for a 20-metre-wide railroad.
The last remaining hurdle was the city’s concern about national interference in its urban rail system. The city commissioned renowned engineer Jean-Baptiste Berlier, who designed Paris’ postal network of pneumatic tubes, to design and plan its rail system in the early 1890s. Berlier recommended a special track gauge of 1,300 mm (4 ft 3 3⁄16 in) (versus the standard gauge of 1,435 mm or 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) to protect the system from national takeover, which inflamed the issue substantially. The issue was finally settled when the Minister of Public Works begrudgedly recognized the city’s right to build a local system in November 22, 1895, and by the city’s secret designing of the trains and tunnels to be too narrow for main-line trains, while adopting standard gauge as a compromise with the state