Thirty-four days of a closure that promises to be painful, but “essential”. RATP has just announced the next temporary traffic interruption dates (ITC) for line 14 until April. And the least we can say is that they are numerous: fifteen days in a row of total closure of the line during the February holidays, every weekend in March as well as April 1st. An announcement which does not go unnoticed, after the painful episode of All Saints' Day, when the closure of the line had already caused a significant transfer of travelers to other lines, in particular on line 13.
“Line 14 will be closed from Sunday February 11 to Sunday February 25 inclusive (...) This will allow us to definitively put the new automatic piloting system into service on the existing line from Monday February 26, and to continue in parallel the tests on the extensions, particularly to the south between Orly and Saint-Denis Pleyel", specifies the RATP, which takes the opportunity to recall that "the two-week interruption during the 2023 All Saints' Day holidays had made it possible to finalize the tests of the new system pilotage on the existing line. “Essential” work, we underline internally, while the extension of line 14 towards Orly airport to the south and Saint Denis-Pleyel station to the north must be ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games .
The length of time required for this work did not fail to provoke a reaction. “It’s huge,” says Arnaud Bertrand, president of the Plus de trains association, insisting on the fact that it is obviously not the construction site itself that poses a problem, to the extent that users will be, according to him, “the first to benefit from the extension of the line to Orly”, but rather the dates chosen to carry it out. “Why not choose to close the line between Christmas and New Year's Eve, a period when metro ridership is historically low?” asks the user representative. And this, even if it means “paying more”, he suggests, to the agents who agree to work during this end-of-year holiday period.
Also read “A horror again this morning”: the closure of line 14 causes chaos in Parisian transport
This announcement did not fail to annoy the daily users of line 14, which also turns out to be the most efficient on the network. “How fed up are we here? Two full weeks closed, plus every weekend in March! We remind you that two weeks of closure are also planned in April and May,” regrets this Internet user on X (ex-Twitter). For user associations, so that the construction site causes as little disruption as possible, it is above all necessary to ensure that the other lines are reinforced accordingly. “Because on All Saints’ Day, the service was bad,” explains Arnaud Bertrand, who wonders: “was the service bad because line 14 is so efficient that we can’t do “without” or is it – that the service has not been sufficiently strengthened elsewhere?
An anger well understood by Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM), which demands several elements from the RATP. First, “to reduce ITC times as much as possible in 2024”, then, “to improve and anticipate passenger information”, and finally, “to strengthen alternative lines, in particular with an offer of full traffic for line 13”. Way, according to the transport organizing authority in Île-de-France, to limit disruptions and travel conditions for users as much as possible. “We are aware that the closure of line 14 has an impact on our passengers. This is why we favor school holidays to carry out these long traffic interruptions, a period during which the number of travelers using line 14 decreases slightly,” defends the RATP, which promises that substitution via other metro lines, RER or bus are offered.
“Line 13, particularly in demand during long-term interruptions of line 14, will be maintained at a full traffic level,” promises the group, while a replacement bus M14 must also be “put in place between Gare de Lyon and the Olympics. In addition, communication campaigns are carried out with the distribution of flyers, displays at stations and sound announcements, “well in advance so that our travelers can be informed and make their arrangements”, assures the RATP.
And users are warned, since on the poster already deployed in the metro, they can read the following message: “we will keep you informed of the continuation of the interruptions planned from April 2024”. This is in fact not the end of the work, since “new tests will subsequently have to be carried out before opening the extensions of the line in mid-2024 in order to accommodate one million travelers per day”. Ultimately, users should nevertheless benefit from all these closures: these should in particular make it possible to reduce the interval between each train from 85 to 80 seconds, on a line which will go from Saint-Denis to Orly.