Ile-de-France transport is desperately seeking billions

The last board of directors of the year of Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM), the transport organizing authority of the capital region, which was to be held on Thursday, December 9, promises to be lively. The invitation received by the leader of Alstom, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, and Jean-Pierre Farandou, the CEO of SNCF, first of all looks like a summons rather than a hearing. Both must explain to the thirty-one administrators the reasons why the long-awaited new RER D and E trainsets, promises of smoother traffic, announced for mid-2021, will not arrive, at best, until mid-2023. “An industrial shipwreck”, in October castigated Valérie Pécresse, the president of IDFM, of the region and now a right-wing candidate in the presidential election.

Read also RER E site: Valérie Pécresse announces a budget overrun of more than 1.7 billion euros

Once this hearing is over, the 2022 budget will then be discussed; 10.5 billion euros in operation, but a debt that continues to grow “To reach 8.3 billion euros at the end of 2022, i.e. an increase of 50% compared to the outstanding amount expected at the end of 2021”, notes François Durovray, President Les Républicains (LR) of the Essonne departmental council and director of IDFM.

And this is where inevitably the angry subjects and their latest twists are likely to arise: the extension of the RER E to the west (Eole), and its additional 1.7 billion euros announced (on a site already amounted to 3.7 billion); work on the northern axis which will intensify in 2022 and 2023 with inevitable repercussions on the daily lives of RER B and D travelers already suffering from exhausted lines. And finally, these “few” billions to be found quickly, if the will to consolidate one of the densest networks in the world still holds, but for which the negotiations are at a standstill. Needless to say, the presidential context does not help matters.

Provision for risks undervalued

It was at the beginning of October that the file of the extension of Eole became explosive. SNCF Réseau had mentioned in 2020 an increase of 650 million euros due to delays linked to the Covid, to the “yellow vests” crisis but also to changes made to the project. For the sake of clarity, the funders (the State, the region, the departments concerned, the City of Paris) have asked the SNCF, which also pays, for a new estimate of the project. It was unveiled during a technical committee: the 650 million euros of “Additional costs” known, an additional 1 billion should be added because the provision for risks had been undervalued in the 2016 protocol (5% instead of the usual 20% to 30%).

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