Culture

Metro line 14: a line and its history

It has been 25 years since line 14, the first fully automated line on the Paris network, was commissioned and began operating. Unlock the full history with us! 

Take a trip down memory lane... On 15 October 1998, French President Jacques Chirac inaugurated line 14, also known as Météor ("Métro Est-Ouest Rapide" or "East-West Rapid Metro"). As the first fully automated line from the day it started operating, it connected stations from Madeleine to Bibliothèque François Mitterrand in record time.

The idea for creating a new line originally stemmed from the congestion experienced on the central section of the RER A. It's worth noting that with 8,000 passengers per hour between Châtelet - Les Halles and Auber, this section greatly exceeded expectations as a metro relief route, notably since line 1 and other lines reached their capacity limits in the 1960s and 1970s. Another goal was to serve the Seine South-East activity hub (including the French National Library, the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance) and to better serve the south of the 13th arrondissement.

In 1987, RATP chose the name Météor because the line was intended to link Porte Maillot with Maison Blanche. This plan was later abandoned in favour of a northward extension, resulting in the line’s overall north-south orientation.

Construction began in 1992, with significant challenges: determining execution methods while accommodating the subsoil's unique characteristics, which included various layers of coarse limestone and marlstone and pebbles, where most of the structures were to be located. Between the Madeleine rear station and the Arsenal port, a two-track tunnel 4,550 metres long was constructed by the tunnel boring machine named Sandrine. And on the Seine side, the sub-river crossing was completed upstream of the Tolbiac bridge, between the 12th and 13th arrondissements. Here too, the technical skill was remarkable: four pre-stressed concrete caissons were submerged into the riverbed.
 

Characteristic architecture

Located over 20 metres below street level, line 14 benefited from an architectural and stylistic charter defined by architect Bernard Kohn: it focuses on RATP's primary concern of welcoming, accompanying, and reassuring passengers throughout their underground journey.

The impressive station volumes, enhanced by lighting, make the corridors more fluid and comfortable. Transparent footbridges and mezzanines offer a clear view of the platforms and ensure safe passage. A "signage root," supporting cables and panels, guides passengers from the station entrance to the platforms. The airy spaces, generous light, and noble materials used (concrete, aluminium, wood, reconstituted granite) define the ultra-contemporary aesthetic of this fully automated line.

Each station on line 14 has its unique features that enhance its space: the "lens" at Saint-Lazare, the tropical greenhouse at Gare de Lyon, the correspondence well at Madeleine, and the monumental pillars and escalators at the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand station.

architecture de la ligne 14

Since its creation, the line has already seen three extensions.

Originally, line 14 had seven stations between Madeleine and Bibliothèque François Mitterrand. Two successive extensions, northward in 2003 from Madeleine to Saint-Lazare and southward in 2007 from Bibliothèque François Mitterrand to Olympiades, resulted in the opening of two stations and an additional 1.3 km of service. The third extension was launched in 2020 up to Mairie de Saint-Ouen, adding four new stations and 5.8 km.

A concentration of technical and architectural innovations, it transports over 750,000 passengers each day, following the highest standards of safety and availability. Constantly modernising and expanding, it stands as the backbone of the future Grand Paris Express. Indeed, it will connect future lines 15, 16, and 17 with the current network. Since its commissioning, line 14 has gradually defined Parisian mobility, transporting more than a billion passengers.

travaux de prolongement de la ligne 14

And it's not over yet!

In spring 2024, two new extensions will be put into service:
- Southward, to Orly Airport, adding 14 km and 7 new stations.
- Northward, to Saint-Denis Pleyel, adding 1.6 km.

With these extensions, line 14 will become the longest line on the existing network (nearly 30 km). You can follow the projet on the dedicated site.

1 million daily commuters will soon rely on metro line 14 for their transportation.

Key figure

40
min
This is the time it will take to travel from Saint-Denis Pleyel to Orly airport in spring 2024.

Did you know?

From 1937 to 1976, there was a previous line 14, quite different from today’s! It connected Invalides station, serving the old Paris air terminal, to Porte de Vanves station.
 

A line with a unique sound identity

Discover the announcements that were broadcast during the commissioning of line 14.
The particularity of the announcements from that time: we followed the advice of a psycho-acoustician who recommended a high-pitched voice that stands out better, as well as the articulation of each syllable. This allows you to distinctly hear "ma-deuh-lei-ne" or "cha-teuh-let" for example. Another iconic aspect is the announcement regarding alighting on the left sound of the train, with the famous "bajada por el lado izquierdo", which has made such a lasting impression. It has since been replaced by Italian, which makes more sense at Gare de Lyon, as many trains depart to and from Italy.
 

At the heart of culture

Line 14 also represents 25 years of cultural activities featuring now-iconic works such as Ryaba the hen, gifted in 2009 by the Moscow metro, the monumental artwork by German artist Tobias Rehberger that adorns the Pont Cardinet station, and the « To Breathe » installation by the artist Kimsooja at the Mairie de Saint-Ouen station, an immersive work using the principle of light diffraction.
 

oeuvres sur la ligne 14

These works are enhanced by the architectural quality displayed on the line, which features large areas of open space in which bursts of light and contemporary materials blend, increasing comfort and fluidity for passengers.

A six-star metro

Line 14 is the first metro line in the Île-de-France region to have received a six-star rating from the EFQM diploma in June 2023. This significant recognition in the field of quality and managerial excellence, awarded by the EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) and Afnor, is recognised internationally.

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Ligne 14 Heritage