The RER: a crazy idea becomes reality
The 1960s saw the suburbs of Paris expand rapidly. In response to this development, the idea of the RER was born.
Line A: the first major cross-Paris railway line
In 1960, as part of the PADOG development plan for the Paris region, the idea of a high-speed regional rail network - the Réseau Express Régional or RER – was put forward. Five years later, the development master plan for the Paris region described the concept in detail. The RATP’s proposed RER project was accepted by the Government, after it was realised that merely extending the metro lines would no longer suffice. The project would require considerable investment. Fortunately, France was enjoying a period of strong economic growth at the time.
At this stage, the construction work for line A was already well underway, with work on the section between Pont de Neuilly and La Défense having begun on 6 July 1961. Line A, the first major line to cross Paris, would be constructed in sections, starting from its two terminal stations. The RER construction work drew visitors from all over the world to witness the innovative techniques being employed.
The first section to be opened was that between Nation and Boissy-Saint-Léger, on 14 December 1969. To the west, the stretch from Etoile to Saint-Germain-en-Laye was opened section by section over the years that followed.
Auber station opened in 1971, ten years after work began on the line. Inaugurated by President Georges Pompidou, it put La Défense within an eight-minute journey of the Opera. Designed to accommodate 50,000 passengers an hour, Auber station was already attracting more customers than this within a few short years.
Auber station: a feat of engineering
The construction of Auber station was one of the technical challenges posed by the creation of the RER. The station is located in the heart of Paris, close to the foundations of prestigious buildings, including the opera house and a number of department stores, under a functioning metro line, and in the vicinity of a main sewer. The works would be submerged in water for several years. The large passenger hall, with its vaulted roof worthy of a cathedral, was a proud achievement for the engineers of the time.
Auber station comprises 4:km of underground tunnels, 73 escalators, 15 lifts and 4 moving walkways. Architect André Wogenscky designed the decor, a harmonious blend of blue and red.