The very controversial project to renovate and expand the Gare du Nord as it had been designed with Ceetrus, the real estate company of the Auchan group, is now over. The outcome of this soap opera, which has seen many twists and turns for three years, took place on Tuesday, September 21, at 9:57 p.m.
In an unexpected press release, SNCF Gares & Connexions, the subsidiary of the railway group responsible for designing, renovating and maintaining the stations, announced “End of the North Station concession contract concluded with Ceetrus in 2019”.
There were two main reasons for this decision. The overall cost of the project, first of all, which has literally exploded in recent months. In 2020, it had already risen to 900 million euros, against the 600 million announced in 2018. Now, we were talking about 1.5 billion at least, excluding construction hazards. The bill for the only shopping center – it was to be attached to the historic Jacques Ignace Hittorff (1792-1867) and was controversial because it was considered disproportionate and unsuited to the challenges of the XXIe century -, for its part, had doubled, from 380 million to some 750 million euros.
The timetable was also not respected at all. While the largest station in Europe was to be operational for the kickoff of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the opening of the Olympic Games in 2024, everything suggested that it would rather be covered with tarpaulins and surrounded of palisades as the whole world looked towards France. The end of the work would not come until 2026, at the earliest.
“In view of these unbearable drifts compared to Stationord’s contractual commitments [le consortium composé de Ceetrus à 66 % et de SNCF Gares & Connexions à 34 %], SNCF Gares & Connexions can only note the serious failure of its concessionaire and pronounce its forfeiture ” slice the press release from the rail group subsidiary.
The initiation of this fault procedure was ratified on Tuesday evening by three boards of directors: that of SNCF Gares & Connexions, SNCF Réseau and that of the parent company of SNCF, the holding company at the head. During these assemblies, “The industrial rout”, and “The dysfunction of the contracting authority” were clearly denounced.
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