Information published on 27 March 2012 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 284.

France: Paris Saint-Lazare station – total transformation after 10 years of work

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Built in 1837 as France’s first railway station, Paris Saint-Lazare is located right in the centre of Paris’ main business district. With 450,000 passengers passing through every day, it is Europe’s second biggest station in terms of passenger flow. The station had not undergone any significant renovation since 1970 and no longer provided the quality of services expected of a Parisian train station. Thus began an ambitious renovation project in 2003, known as “Cœur Saint-Lazare”.

After three successive phases of planned works between 2003 and 2012, Saint-Lazare station was inaugurated on 21 March this year. Notable attendees included SNCF President Guillaume Pepy, Sophie Boissard as Director of “Gares et Connexions” (Stations and Connections) as well as some of the architects involved in the renovation, such as J-M Dutillheul, F.Bonnefille, E.Tricaud (SNCF/AREP), P.Gorce and Dinechin (DGLa).

Redeveloping Saint-Lazare included making improvements to way-finding and access to and from the other modes of transport passing through the station, as well as creating an up-to-date retail space, steeped in natural light and built where the former station concourse was. The work was commissioned from AREP’s business unit responsible for station development and investment plans (“Atelier d’Architecture de Gares & Connexions”).

Saint-Lazare in numbers

  • 95 million passengers pass through every year
  • Second biggest train station in Europe in terms of traffic volume
  • 450,000 passengers pass through every day
  • 12% more passengers than 5 years ago
  • 10,000 square metres – the size of the station’s new shopping complex
  • 21 new escalators
  • 1600 Transilien trains per day
  • 100 Corail Intercités and TER trains per day
  • 27 bus routes
  • 6 metro and RER lines

Saint-Lazare train station was also one of the first stations to be depicted by artists and especially impressionists and French writers, who found it a great source of inspiration for their works. Examples include painters such as Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte or the writer Emile Zola.

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One of the next large projects for SNCF business unit “Gares & Connexions” concerns Paris-Austerlitz station, where works are scheduled to finish in 2020. Paris-Montparnasse will also be redesigned in order to better manage the vast traffic increase in the station. Lastly, Paris Lyon train station (to be inaugurated next September) has been expanding since May 2010 in order to deal with an increasing number of passengers. Indeed, by 2020 it will welcome 45 million intercity passengers per year; 10 million more than it does today. In total, the station will have more than 50 shops and local services on offer. Two additional new halls have been constructed in contemporary style, extending the existing system.

All the work done has enabled a large-scale reorganisation of the space in the new extension.

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(Source: SNCF – Gares & Connexions)