he French government will invest 100 billion euros to expand and upgrade the rail network to reduce the country’s carbon emissions. This was announced last week by French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.
The plan includes launching express commuter trains similar to the Paris RER system in other major French metropolitan areas, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said. It has not been announced yet for which cities this will be the case. This metropolitan RER is not a ‘city center issue’, Borne assured, but the relationship between the metropolis, peri-urban areas and medium-sized towns that needs to be improved.
“Preparing for the future of our transportation means making strong choices to enable change in usage. With 100 billion euros for rail by 2040, we will move towards more efficient and low-carbon daily transportation”, she said on social media.
The railway investment is part of the broad plan ‘France Nation verte’ to reach the Paris climate goals and the European Green Deal: to reduce emissions by 55 per cent by 2030. The Prime Minister, in charge of ecological planning, presented a double ambition for transport, with an important role for rail, which she calls the backbone of transport.
On the one hand, to successfully decarbonise this sector which is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases with a third of the total emissions of France. On the other hand, the ambition is to develop daily transport to reduce territorial divisions and improve the lives of French citizens.
Developing the railway network
“Beyond the continuation of new line projects and the relaunch of night trains, we must invest in the development of the network”, Borne said in a speech. The railway investment should “put an end to the aging of the network and modernise it”. According to the Prime Minister, work on the railway infrastructure carried out since 2017 is bearing fruit, but further investment is needed. By the end of the five-year term, this means an additional 1 billion euros per year for the regeneration of the network and 500 million euros per year for its modernisation. “For our citizens, modernising the network will mean more trains, better punctuality and shorter journey times. It is under these conditions, and under these conditions only, that the train will be fully an attractive and credible alternative to the car”.
By next summer, the implementation of the future plan for transport will be developed. The investment will also benefit the French economy, as 80 per cent of rail investments benefit French companies, the PM stressed. The transport plan will rely on the expertise of the Société du Grand Paris (SGP). “To achieve our ambition, we will need new legislative provisions, in particular to broaden the missions of the SGP. Over the past 5 years, it has demonstrated its ability to carry out the largest infrastructure and development project in Europe, while controlling costs and maintaining a permanent link with elected officials.“
From March, the SGP will start discussions with the local executives concerned to determine the timetable, the operational and financing methods for the new metropolitan RER projects.
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