Gare du Nord - What's the Beef?

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Gilbert B Norman
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Gare du Nord - What's the Beef?

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:48 pm

Article appearing in today's New York Times: ... -nord.html

Fair Use:
PARIS — A group of leading French architects have denounced a plan to renovate the Gare du Nord, one of Paris’s main train stations, calling the designs that would turn the station into a glassy, mammoth, restaurant-filled shopping mall “indecent,” “absurd” and “unacceptable.”

The plan for the Gare du Nord, the terminus for the Eurostar train from London and the largest station in Europe, would cost 600 million euros, about $660 million, and force commuters and travelers to go through a platform lined with shops before getting to the train platforms, in much the way that airports route passengers through duty-free shops.
I'm at a loss to understand the beef; stations "over there" should consider it an honor that they have sufficient traffic to entice private investors for retail development.

Amtrak is aggressively moving at stations - Wash, Chi, and, as Penn expands into the former Post Office, there as well. Even Denver, now that it has become a mass transit hub, is seeking and finding retail merchants. Be it assured, back over there, first hand observations of Salzburg, Innsbruck, Vienna, and Graz, all have active retailing within their premises.

So, why there is resistance on the part of any party to such development escapes me.

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Re: Gare du Nord - What's the Beef?

Post by kato » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:47 pm

The plans include guiding passengers similar to an airport, separating people entering and exiting - but on a "full scale". That's what people have a problem with.

Photo: Semop gare du nord/Denis Valode architecture/atelier d’architecture SNCF

This scheme basically:
  • pushes all passengers going to a train through the mall planned in the East Wing
  • including anyone switching between trains, even between neighboring platforms - in a circle run through the entire station (!)
  • as well as anyone switching to/from the bus station on the eastern side of the building (... and, for the smaller retail space in the west wing, from the metro stations on that side)
  • and of course anyone coming over from Gare de l'Est 800m away
The scheme is enforced with one-way walkways. The RER commuter trains will have their platforms under the new mall too.

The retail itself isn't much of a problem - Gare du Nord already has 100,000 square feet of retail in the station building now.
Last edited by kato on Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gare du Nord - What's the Beef?

Post by bellstbarn » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:53 pm

I agree with most of Mr. Norman's post. However, two aspects of the construction seem undesirable:
1) Passengers ought not be forced to traipse through a shopping mall to reach transportation, either at an airport or a train station. Not everybody is good for long distances to the gate or rail head, and the mall-surrounded airports are a ridiculous model. Distances should be as close as the Interborough to the Flatbush Avenue LIRR station.
2) With these plans, Gare du Nord could become Penn Station. Yuk. Corridors without an sight of a railroad. Hoboken (a terminal like Gare du Nord) will remain obviously a rail head, and Gare du Nord could become a maze.

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