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[In Images] SNCF and Ceetrus aim to create "the town within the station"

These works should cost nearly 600 million euros, which will be reimbursed by the rent paid by the station's shop operators. In the long term, SNCF will only be a minority shareholder, associated with Ceetrus.

The Gare du Nord in Paris, Europe's leading station (700,000 daily passengers, suburbs and main lines), is expected to triple in volume by mid-2023 ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games.

Guillaume PEPY, Chairman of SNCF's Management Board, said: "This project is very ambitious for Gare du Nord. It was expected. The new Gare du Nord, delivered mid-2023 will be equal to St Pancras. This project calls on all the expertise of the SNCF group and represents major progress for the 700,000 passengers daily on regular daily trains and high speed trains alike at Europe's leading station."

The SNCF expects 800,000 passengers a day in 2024 (not counting those who only take the metro) and 900,000 in 2030. Brexit will also impose an increase in the size of the Eurostar hall, to be able to ensure more customs controls. It should be accompanied by the creation of a duty-free area.

Gare du Nord will thus become the first station in which the majority shareholder will be a private company. Thanks to a special dispensation, SNCF will create a semi-public company with a single operation (Semop), in which it will hold 34% of the shares. The remaining 66% will be held by Ceetrus, the real estate company of the Auchan group, which was selected after a call for tenders.

Vinney Mulliez, President of Ceetrus, said: "We are delighted to support this project, alongside SNCF - Gares et Connections, which integrates all the urban issues of tomorrow: the animation of the flow areas to make them areas of life, the positioning of commerce and its evolution, taking into account users' needs, the reconnexion to the city. The Gare du Nord project illustrates Ceetrus' commitment and its ambition to become a global urban player at the service of citizens and the city of tomorrow to forge links and embellish everyday life."

Another specificity of the procedure: the call for tenders concerned the entire project (architecture, design offices, execution of works, choice of signs...), a "consortium" operation which should in theory speed up the work, and fluidify relations between the various stakeholders.

The architectural project is signed by Valode & Pistre, in co-design with SNCF Gares&Connexions' architecture workshop. The lighting will be signed by Yann Kersalé. AREP will also be a partner. Eiffage is associated with Bouygues Énergies Services.

A first phase of work over the period 2015-2018, at a cost of 80 million euros, has already brought some notable improvements.

Separate arrivals and departures

At the heart of this project, the construction of footbridges over existing tracks, where those who have a train to catch will reach the platform. Arrivals will leave the station by the platforms. This organisation of flows, similar to that encountered in airports, should favour the fluidity of traffic.

A new central "street" bathed in light

The "Transilien" entrance, with its glass walls, will be profoundly transformed. Inspired by Parisian passages of the 19th century, this new space will take the form of a 300-metre corridor, topped by a transparent roof, from which it should be easy to access the various platforms: Eurostar, TGV, RER and Transilien. This will be made possible in particular by the construction of a floor, where the brand new departure terminal will be located.

New spaces

In total, 27% of the new spaces will be dedicated to restaurants and 37% to boutiques. But the station will also have a theatre, a co-working space, and a nursery, with a local association and social activities linked to integration.

The 7,000m² of green areas and 3,200m² of solar panels of the future public garden, located on the roofs of the Gare du Nord station, will be next to areas dedicated to sports and a 1km long trail track, which will allow jogging on the station roof.

Patrick ROPERT, Managing Director of SNCF Gares & Connexions, said: "Every time we transform a station, we transform a city district. Gare du Nord will become the emblematic station of the 21st century by adapting as many services as possible to the expectations of our society. It is a colossal challenge to triple the size of this station for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. We will take it on."

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