“Competition is slowly entering public transport in the Paris region”


A drilling machine on the construction site of the Grand Paris Express metro line 17, in Bonneuil-en-France (Val-d'Oise), September 18, 2020

VSThis rivalry comes from afar. It was in order not to depend on the administration of the State railways that the City of Paris created, in 1883, its own company, with the help of the Belgian baron Edouard Empain, to build the Paris metro. One hundred and forty years later, the SNCF should win its first Paris metro under the nose and beard of the RATP, distant heiress of the first Parisian company.

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The national company, through its subsidiary Keolis, should be declared the beneficiary of the operation of future lines 16 and 17 of the Grand Paris automatic metro which will link Saint-Denis to Noisy-Champs for one, and to the airport Charles-de-Gaulle and Le Mesnil-Amelot for the other. These are the first two lines of the Grand Paris Express to be allocated by concession. They will respectively come into service from 2026 and 2028. This will therefore be the first concretization of the huge Greater Paris project and its 35 billion euros of investment over more than twenty years.

Under the aegis of Ile-de-France Mobilités, competition is therefore slowly entering public transport in the Paris region. Already, private companies operate buses in the outer suburbs, and tenders are underway. The symbol is strong and it did not escape Regional Councilor Céline Malaisé (Communist Party).

Conquest of new markets

She reacted quite vigorously to the news by “not welcoming the first private operator of the metro”. His group will vote against awarding this contract to Keolis. In the eyes of the Communists, Keolis is a private company, because its employees are not civil servants, and the SNCF holds only 70% of it, the rest being in the hands of the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec.

As is already the case for many other municipal and regional services, from the train to the management of water or garbage cans, competition is setting in, including within the State. To prepare for this, the two companies set out to conquer new markets, in France and abroad. Keolis operates, among other things, the Lyon metro or lines in London and Shanghai, the RATP, does the same in Riyadh and Sydney.

The fight has only just begun since the Ile-de-France bus lines will be subject to calls for tenders by 2024. And the RATP intends to erase the affront with line 18 of Greater Paris, more bourgeois (Versailles-Orly) and highly coveted. Markets now much more juicy and attractive than those of high-speed trains. Change of era.


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