Where are the metropolitan RERs promised by Emmanuel Macron? | EUROtoday

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Vite, apply. Thursday May 23, the president of the metropolis of Montpellier (Hérault), Michaël Delafosse, and the president of the Occitanie area, Carole Delga, convey collectively elected officers – representatives of Nîmes, Sète, Lunel, a complete of 9 intermunicipalities round Montpellier – to formally launch the foundations of the long run metropolitan regional specific service (Serm) and apply collectively to acquire, in June, the valuable label.

Their promise: high-frequency regional specific trains (TER), operating from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., buses with a excessive stage of service and coaches to attach the metropolis to its hinterland. The horizon? 2034. The means? Mystery. Since Emmanuel Macron introduced, in November 2022, his “great national ambition” to “develop an RER network” in “ten French metropolises”, everybody desires theirs, however nobody is aware of who pays for them.

Gigantic wants

“800 million euros are earmarked for the mobility aspects of State-region plan contracts,” explains economist specializing in rail transport Patricia Perennes. “It’s a good start, but it will not be enough to finance 13 Serms,” factors out the president of the Occitanie area and president of Régions de France, Carole Delga.

“For example, the Serm de Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) should cost 3.6 billion euros for infrastructure alone and 492 million euros for rolling stock, not including the operating costs of more than 113 million euros only for the rail component. »

“There is money to pay for studies,” acknowledges Horizons du Nord senator Franck Dhersin. But, after that, nobody is aware of the place the cash is! » And the wants are gigantic: “Between 15 and 20 billion euros”, in line with the Infrastructure Orientation Council. “More like 50 billion euros,” corrects the senator from the North. “Everyone smells the billions and says “me too, I want my share”. It turns into a bit like common, sprinkling and nonsense. As we lack cash, we’ve to pay attention. »

Thirty initiatives on monitor

Will there solely be 13 Serms chosen, as Emmanuel Macron introduced final September? The Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion lists no fewer than thirty initiatives. In metropolises, but in addition for South Morbihan, Béarn Bigorre or between Lorraine and Luxembourg. Among the most important: these of Lille (North) and Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône), which plan the development of crossing underground stations. In Lille, the mission is estimated at 7.5 billion euros, together with 1.5 billion for the development of this new station in Lille-Flandres.

In The voice of the North, the Minister of Transport, Patrice Vergriete, described it as “very very expensive” and “not on the right scale”. Certainly, the judgment comes from the previous mayor of Dunkirk, nonetheless connected to his territory, however additionally it is that of the member of a authorities whose coffers are empty.

READ ALSO “The government has no strategy”: transport is operating out of steamThe nationwide Serm funding convention, initially scheduled for June, was postponed to September, formally because of the Olympic Games. “We can clearly see that the State is not following,” estimates economist Patricia Perennes. “There is a gap between what people understood from Emmanuel Macron's announcement, what he himself had in mind and what is feasible with the available means. The more things evolve, the more we realize this gap. »

For her, by the end of Emmanuel Macron's second term, “there will probably only be express coaches, or even, for regions that are willing to pay for them, such as Bordeaux and Strasbourg, the strengthening of services railways”.

In Strasbourg, the first metropolitan RER

These two metropolises have the advantage of not having waited for presidential announcements to launch their own express network project. “In Strasbourg, the project was launched in 2018 by the president of the Grand Est region and the president of the Strasbourg Eurometropolis,” explains the region’s vice-president for transport, Thibaud Philipps.

Some 750 million euros have been injected to increase the number of trains on several lines, and to run more coaches. The beginnings, in 2023, were chaotic, and the initial objective of 1,000 additional trains per week was not met: 650 more today, out of a total of 1,800.

READ ALSO Gironde is experimenting with express buses “so that residents can let go of their cars” But “Strasbourg is today the station in France which sees the most TER trains pass in one day, outside Île-de-France”, underlines the elected official for transport. Region and metropolis intend to “take advantage of the law passed on Serms to carry out additional studies and increase their strength”.

In Bordeaux, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and the Bordeaux metropolis also launched, in 2018, a 680 million euro metropolitan RER project, which provides for traffic crossing Bordeaux station. “In 2023, we had 19,000 users per day on the TER lines and we want to capture 20,000 more,” explains the PS president of the region, Alain Rousset. The key is work on infrastructure and the ordering of additional trains. “We have committed colossal funding, which stretches our budget,” underlines the elected official. We are beyond the limit. »

The highway hoard

So, where can we find the billions to run these RERs? The president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region pleads for the State to “repatriate on its skills and its means” and give communities the means of a “dedicated resource”, in particular for “the renovation of the lines”.

“We are awaiting details from the State on local taxation dedicated to Serm, announced in the text of the law, which must contribute to the establishment and proper functioning of our public transport,” points out the president of the Occitanie region, Carole Delga. Most metropolitan presidents are calling for an uncapping of the mobility payment, a dedicated tax paid by businesses in their territory.

“It is the main source of financing for our mobility policies,” underlines the president of the Strasbourg Eurometropolis, Pia Imbs, who is preparing to meet the ministers of Transport and Ecological Transition to renew this request, “ very largely formulated by the communities”.

READ ALSO Parisian transport: fed up “The mobility payment is heavy and anti-employment,” protests Northern senator Franck Dhersin. It is banking on co-financing from the European Union for the Lille RER, which is able to partly profit Belgian customers. And he would see one other useful resource to finance the railway: the cash from the highways.

“From 2031 and till 2034, motorway concessions will fall. Over the following ten years, we’d like 100 billion euros for rail infrastructure, one other 100 billion to improve bridges and buildings and 50 billion for metropolitan RERs. We can search for them in a renegotiation of those concessions, which we can’t settle for to proceed to be made so closely. »