French rail operator scraps plans to revamp Paris’ Gare du Nord station

SNCF, which made the announcement late Tuesday, blamed the decision on “unacceptable” cost overruns. In July, the main contractor, Ceetrus, warned the final bill would be triple earlier estimates of €500 million.

The decision also comes after the contractor warned of “considerable” delays, meaning that the new station would not be ready for the Olympics as initially planned.

The SNCF subsidiary in charge of stations, SNCF Gares & Connexions, accused Ceetrus of “serious failure” and terminated its contract.

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The project had aimed to triple the size of the station, from where trains depart to Amsterdam, Brussels and London, as well as destinations in northern France.

It is the first thing many tourists in Paris see, as it is the arrival point for both the Eurostar and the public transport connections from Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports into the city centre.

But it has long been slammed as dirty, crumbling, chaotic, confusing and a haven for pickpockets.

Paris city hall had fiercely criticised plans to turn the station into a major shopping and entertainment hub, saying it would be out of character with Gare du Nord’s multi-ethnic neighbourhood.

Well-known architects had also slammed the colossal project.

SNCF said it would carry out a “quick adaptation” of the station to welcome visitors both for the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics a year later.

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