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Paris Opens Swifter Subway Line

October 18, 1998|TIMES PARIS BUREAU

For the first time since 1923, Paris has opened a new subway line. The high-speed Meteor line (Metro Est-Ouest Rapide) is able to carry as many as 25,000 passengers an hour and cuts across the city from northwest to southeast, with stops near some popular tourist sites.

The first part of the $1.2-billion line, inaugurated last week by French President Jacques Chirac, is about 4 1/2 miles long and serves seven stops between the Tolbiac-Massena station in the 13th Arrondissement (near the new Francois Mitterrand Library) and the Madeleine station in the 8th Arrondissement, where the 19th century Madeleine Church is found. Other stops include Chatelet (near the Pompidou Center on the Right Bank); Pyramides (near the Louvre Museum); and the Bercy stadium, home to sporting events and concerts. By 2003, the line is scheduled to link two major Paris train stations: Gare de Lyon and Gare Saint-Lazare.

The trains can run at an average speed--accounting for stops--of 25 mph, twice as fast as existing trains; their top speed is 50 mph. This means a rider can go from Tolbiac to Madeleine in 12 minutes.

The stations, including the turnstiles, are wheelchair-accessible, unlike most of the regular subway stations, and provide devices to aid the hearing- and sight-impaired.

Ticket prices are the same as on the rest of the Metro system--about $1.50 per ride.

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