The Grand Paris Express project: driving ecological transition 

The new metro will change the face of the Île-de-France region. Société du Grand Paris is the driving force behind the project. The sheer scale of the public transport scheme will give planners a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redesign and reshape the city to make it more inclusive and environmentally-friendly.

Putting Greater Paris on the rails

The Grand Paris Express is a flagship project for ecological transition which will completely reshape Greater Paris thanks to 200 km of new automatic lines criss-crossing the capital and 68 new stations.  It is a project of vital importance for France - in urban, social and economic terms - intended to promote sustainable, inclusive economic development and create jobs.  

The four lines of the Grand Paris Express (15, 16, 17 and 18) are connected to the existing public transport network and will allow travel between suburbs without having to transit via the centre of Paris. The extension of line 14 to the north and south will complete the network, offering dense coverage of the area. The new metro will form the backbone of urban development in the Île de France area. New stations will give many districts a whole new lease of life and a further benefit will be a considerable boost to housing availability.

An eco-friendly metro  

Société du Grand Paris plays a key role in driving this urban transformation. It is designing and building a metro which is fully aligned with the environmental and social priorities of our era enshrined in the COP21 goals by reducing traffic congestion, shortening commuting times and preserving natural land.  

As 80% of the new stations will be connected to the existing network, everyday journeys will be much simpler - more than 90% of local residents live less than two kilometres away from a station.   Close coordination with local authorities made it possible to find the best possible intermodal solutions and encourage new modes of transport around stations in order to slash car traffic and cut CO2 emissions.  

Contributing to cutting greenhouse gas emissions    

The metro will naturally contribute to sustainable development and to lowering CO2 emissions. Emissions will peak at 4.3 million teqCO2 during the construction phase but will drop to 110,000 teqCO2 a year once the metro is in operation. It will actually become carbon positive between 2026 (best case scenario) and 2031 (worst case). Once the metro is completed, it will allow savings of between 755 thousand and 1.3 million teqCO2 a year.  

Emissions generated during building are primarily due to the transportation of material, removal of spoil and the operation of building site machinery. To limit this impact, Société du Grand Paris has set itself some ambitious goals:

  • maximum use of alternative means of transport - rail and river - to remove spoil;
  • choice of materials, products and processes which generate less greenhouse gases (recycled materials, warm mix asphalt, concrete with proven environmental benefits).  These measures generally offer considerable advantages in terms of energy saving. 

Société du Grand Paris is also contributing to building the circular economy by recycling soil from its construction sites.

A dedicated tool - CarbOptimum - has been designed to monitor and optimise the carbon footprint of building sites. Société du Grand Paris is also encouraging research into depolluting materials such as concrete, wall coverings or paint capable of neutralising toxic substances in the air.

 

Société du Grand Paris: a unique financial model 

Société du Grand Paris, a major stakeholder for transport in the Île-de-France region, has adopted a unique financial model.

Société du Grand Paris is a 100% state-owned public industrial and commercial establishment created by a law dated June 3, 2010.  Its primary mission is to draw up the blueprint and lead the infrastructure projects relating to the Grand Paris Express. The following fall within its remit:

  • creating networks including building the lines, infrastructure and amenities;
  • building and developing stations including interchanges;
  • purchasing rolling stock to run on this infrastructure. 

Société du Grand Paris has drawn up a CSR strategy which is the bedrock of project deployment and provides guidelines to foster sustainable development in economic, environmental and social terms. This strategy is built upon four pillars which cover all facets of its action: 

  • promoting people-centric and ethical project management;
  • factoring in the environment in both design and implementation;
  • contributing to shaping tomorrow’s city;
  • working for - and in collaboration with - local stakeholders. 

This approach is perfectly aligned with the seventeen UN sustainable development goals which provide guidelines for organisations striving to achieve global sustainable development.
 

Financial strategy

All the funding for the Grand Paris Express - the project budget plus the financial contributions of Société du Grand Paris to modernising the existing network - is pooled in a secure long-term financial instrument with state backing. 

In addition to French government and EU subsidies (in particular under the “Investments for the Future” programme), Société du Grand Paris obtains funding from tax revenue, borrowing from public investors and raising money on the financial markets. 

Moreover, once the network is up and running, the Société du Grand Paris will generate its own revenue, for example from user charges.

Financial programmes

Commercial papers and bonds were issued in two separate programmes:

  • NeuCP to manage its day-to-day cash requirements;
  • EMTN aimed at international institutional investors (pension funds, insurance companies, asset managers) with maturity dates compatible with long-term assets.  

Green financing

In 2018, Société du Grand Paris took another step forward with its financing of the Grand Paris Express by arranging an unprecedented Green Euro Medium Term Note programme.

This means that Société du Grand Paris is the first bond issuer to adopt a 100% green EMTN program exclusively involving the issuance of green bonds. It undertakes to invest an equivalent sum in the Grand Paris Express and regularly report to investors on the state of progress of the project and its environmental benefits. 

The bond issue complies with the 2018 Green Bond Principles (GBP) and was certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI). The verifier is Sustainalytics

Société du Grand Paris is also a member of the Finance for Tomorrow initiative and the Corporate Forum on Sustainable Finance. The goal is to be a driver in defining high standards for green financing and lead the conversation on the subject in the market. Société du Grand Paris is making a name for itself as a benchmark in the transport and spatial planning sector with expertise in the impact upon urban development.

Those bond issues have proved a great success, testifying to the confidence the Grand Paris Express inspires in investors, underlining the environmental value of the project.

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