February 22, 2018 / 11:36 AM / in 24 days

Paris metro expansion plan delayed before 2024 Olympics

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris on Thursday admitted construction delays to its 38.5-billion-euro ($47 billion) metro expansion plan, despite having promised easy to access public transport to 100 percent of venues for the 2024 Olympic Games.

FILE PHOTO: Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 16, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The Grand Paris Express development, one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, involves building 200 km (124 miles) of track and 68 stations.

It was central to Paris’ boast of “easy-to-access, rapid public transport options to 100 percent of Games venues” in its bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government would push ahead with the whole plan, to be completed around 2030, but would prioritize some lines over others, which will result in delays of three to four years.

“Being truthful forces me to say the current timetable for some lines is no longer in tune with reality,” Philippe said.

The athletes’ village in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, will be fully connected by the time of the Games, the government expects.

But the transport minister said it remained to be seen whether it was feasible to link the Bourget airport station, where the Olympics media village for thousands of journalists will be located, in time for the start of the Games.

“If that’s not the case, these sites will be linked with a (bus) shuttle service,” Elisabeth Borne said.

The project includes an express line linking the capital’s main international airport with the city center, metro lines serving deprived suburbs and another linked to a tech research center.

The line to the Saclay research center in the south was delayed by three years to 2027, as was the one linking Bourget airport and the capital’s main international airport, Charles de Gaulle.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Michel Rose; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Janet Lawrence

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