Paris Gare du Nord is 150 this year and it’s starting to show.
Europe’s busiest station has been at the centre of a number of modernisations since it first opened in 1864 and to mark this latest milestone, it is to undergo another.
In January, SNCF announced it would be marking the anniversary with ‘Plan Botox’ – a four-year programme of cleaning, redecorating and renewing. The station was designed by architect Jacques- Ignace Hittorff. One of the terminal’s most notable features is the collection of statues that have been incorporated into the façade, representing the eight international cities and 14 French towns and cities that were originally served by the Gare du Nord.
There has been a railway station on the site of Gare du Nord since 1846. The original station reached capacity soon after opening and in 1860 the façade was taken down brick by brick and rebuilt as Gare de Lille Flandres.
In 1875, the station was handling six million passengers a year. By 1889, this figure had risen to 10 million.
In 1994, Gare du Nord became a gateway to the UK with the opening of Eurostar. The station now sees 700,000 passengers and 2,100 trains every day. In that time the British terminus, St Pancras, has undergone a complete overhaul.
SNCF has announced another significant stations investment elsewhere on the network.
The state-owned operator and the French infrastructure manager, RFF, are to spend €200 million renovating Bordeaux Saint-Jean station for the commissioning of the Tours-Bordeaux TGV in 2017.
The 302-kilometre Tours-Bordeaux HSL will reduce journey times between Paris and Bordeaux to just over two hours.
As well as extending the station itself and modernising the current interior, money will be spent renewing track and building new maintenance facilities for both the high-speed TGV and regional TER trains.