First run for Grand Paris Express new metro line 15 successful
A decade after declaring this line essential for the public, and following eight years of getting ready and two years after finishing work on this part, a metro has finally run on two kilometres of Metro Line 15 South. This is a big step forward for the Grand Paris Express, one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe.
The Grand Paris Express involves the construction of new public transportation lines in the Île-de-France region. This project includes the creation of four new lines (15,16,17,18) for the Paris Metro, as well as extensions for existing Lines 11 and 14. In total, 200 kilometres of new rail tracks and 68 new stations are to be added, with an expected daily ridership of two million passengers. Along its 33 kilometres, Line 15 South will pass through 22 municipalities, affecting over a million residents.
First Run on Line M15 (South)
On the morning of Tuesday, November 28, at the Champigny operating centre, the Société du Grand Paris (SGP) celebrated the first movement of the new metro in manual mode, in the presence of Jean-François Monteils, Chairman of the Executive Board for the SGP, Clément Beaune, the French Minister of Transportation, Valérie Pécresse, President of Île-de-France Mobilités, Karim Bouamrane, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Société du Grand Paris, and Laurent Jeanne, Mayor of Champigny-sur-Marne. Industrial partners RATP Group, Alstom, and Siemens were also present.
“This first run will allow us to check the railway systems deployed in the tunnels of Line 15 South,” explains Baptiste Pagneux, head of the operation and maintenance centres unit at the Société du Grand Paris in a press release. “Following this demonstration, we can gradually generalise the integration of automatic driving systems, essential for launching static and dynamic integration tests,” he adds.
This is a successful first test for this brand-new rolling stock, which will also be used on the future Lines 16 and 17 (in a 3-car version, compared to 6 for Line 15). This automated metro, capable of reaching 100 kilometres per hour, will be bright, comfortable, connected, and secure. The 27 trains ordered and funded by Île-de-France Mobilités for the operation of this line will be fully accessible, allowing travel on Line 15 South (from Pont de Sèvres to Noisy-Champs) in just over 35 minutes.
Next Steps for Line M15 (South)
The story of this new metro began in September 2020 when the Société du Grand Paris, Île-de-France Mobilités, and Alstom unveiled the design of the rolling stock for Lines 15, 16, and 17 of the Grand Paris Express. After the engineering, industrialization, and production phases, the trains underwent tests at Alstom’s Railway Testing Center in Valenciennes in 2022, first in manual mode and then in automatic mode. In July 2023, the six cars making up the first train of the Grand Paris Express were transported from Valenciennes to the Champigny operating centre by exceptional convoys, where they were assembled. Train testing, similar to those conducted earlier in Valenciennes, began on-site. From October 2023, 34.5 kilometres of Line 15 were excavated, and 34 kilometres of double tracks were laid.
After this symbolic first run, systems and automation will be deployed in all the tunnels of this line. There are still two years before the metro is put into service between the Noisy-Champs and Pont de Sèvres stations, according to the SGP. Passengers will be able to board this new generation metro in two years, as this southern section will be gradually put into service from the end of 2025. The commissioning of the east and west sections is scheduled for 2030.
The next concrete step is planned for the summer of 2024, with the start of dynamic tests on Line 15 South. In early 2024, drive automation will be gradually integrated throughout Line 15 South. In mid-2024, the staggered delivery of trains will take place at the Champigny site, at a rate of two trains per month, and dynamic tests in automatic mode will begin at the Champigny operating centre, then gradually across all of Line 15 South.
Champigny Operating Center
This symbolic step takes place at the Champigny operating centre, located northeast of the town of Champigny-sur-Marne, on the outskirts of Villiers-sur-Marne, south of Bry-sur-Marne, and near the Grand Paris Express station of Bry-Villiers-Champigny, south of the railway yard used by RER Line E. In parallel with the construction and delivery of the first train, the Champigny operating centre is being built by Egis Bâtiment and the architecture firm Richez et associés since December 2019. The site will be officially operational in 2025.
The Champigny operating centre includes a centralised command post (PCC) and a rolling stock maintenance and storage site (SMR). With 19 tracks, the SMR will have a capacity of approximately 70 trains, allowing for the maintenance and servicing of 60% of the rolling stock on Line 15. Storage, referring to the storage of vehicles not in use throughout the day and all trains during the night, will be provided both in the CE and in the connecting tunnel to the line. The SMR will have a total capacity (maintenance and storage) of 29 trains. Ultimately, it will maintain two-thirds of the rolling stock fleet of Line 15.
The PCC plays a crucial role as a central hub, centralising all information related to the operation and supervision of Grand Paris Express Line 15. Its functions include commanding all train movements (passenger and maintenance), real-time traffic monitoring, traffic regulation, organising a return to normal in case of incidents, and daily optimization of service quality for passengers. It also centralises all information regarding stations, operating systems, and the energy of Line 15. It is worth noting that there will be five other operating centres for the Grand Paris Express, located in Aulnay, Rosny, Vitry, Morangis, and Palaiseau.