Chairman replaced for Grand Paris Express 18 Mar 2021

Armand van Wijck, TunnelTalk Europe correspondent

French State owned Société du Grand Paris, the delivery establishment in charge of the €35 billion investment Paris Metro expansion, is to replace its Président du Directoire (Chairman of the Management Board).

Map showing the four new metro lines and extensions
Map showing the four new metro lines and extensions

Thierry Dallard was appointed by the French Government to head the multi-billion project in May 2018, leaving his previous post as director of Vélopolis, the company in charge of constructing the national velodrome of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines for the 2024 Olympic Games. Furthermore he had previously managed large infrastructural projects such as the high-speed rail link between Nîmes and Montpellier. In September 2020 the Government renewed his position on an interim basis. According to French newspaper Le Monde, Dallard became aware on 22 February that this transition period had suddenly come to a halt. The Government has thus far declined to comment on the situation.

With about 170km of new underground infrastructure in total and 68 new stations, the 205km Grand Paris Express will expand the metro system of Paris to one of the largest in the world. The project will provide a multi-metro route solution to serve the rapid growth and increasing urban density of the city. At the time of the appointment of Dallard in 2018, the project was already in a tense situation with the national Audit Chamber announcing a project budget increase from €19 billion to €35 billion. The Government in return demanded that deadlines for the Grand Paris Express would be upheld and costs reduced by at least 10%. Dallard has failed to meet these demands.

Former Chairman Thierry Dallard
Former Chairman Thierry Dallard

Le Monde reports that the relationship between Dallard and French Prime Minister Jean Castex deteriorated further when behind the scenes Dallard explained to a diplomatic envoy of the 2024 Olympic Games, that essential parts of the Grand Paris Express would not be ready at the start of the Games. This communication took place before the Covid-19 pandemic. Only Pleyel Station, Seine-Saint-Denis Station and the Line 14 southbound extension towards Orly Airport, it was said would be delivered in time for the Olympic Games. Current construction contracts on Line 16 and Line 17 also have been affected and delayed by the pandemic.

Societé du Grand Paris has announced that Jean-François Monteils will become its new Chairman. This came after an accelerated diplomatic procedure to replace Dallard, which ended on 9 March with a meeting and an interview of Monteils by the French parliament. Monteils is the current chairman of the Regional Audit Chamber of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. According to reports in the Le Journal du Grand Paris newspaper, Monteils will start with his activities at Societé du Grand Paris on 22 March.


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