The Biggest underground station in the world has opened in Paris. It's the Chatelet-Les-Halles stop?
GV: Inside Chatelet Les-Halles metro station. (TWO SHOTS)
GV: Policeman on duty.
GV & CU: Signs and station name. (TWO SHOTS)
SV: People on escalator.
SV: Guests gather for opening speech by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. (FOUR SHOTS)
SCU: President Giscard d'Estaing speaking.
GV: Train leaving station platform.
TRAVELLING SHOT: Train on above-ground track.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Biggest underground station in the world has opened in Paris. It's the Chatelet-Les-Halles stop on the Paris metro system. The new station links three existing express services serving the Paris suburbs, cutting the travelling time for people commuting from the outskirts of city by up to a half.
SYNOPSIS: The station, covering two acres, (0.8 hectare), is named after and lies beneath "Less Halles", formerly the home of the Paris food markets, which French writer Emile Zola dubbed the "belly of Paris". Planners now call it "The New Centre".
Thirty four new escalators and three moving walkways carry passengers between the two parts of the station..one an inner city underground stop and the other for the remarkable regional expresses, which can hurtle commuters completely across Paris in 10 minutes. Eventually, both lines will come together in a massive central hall with seven platforms.
French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing opened the station on Thursday (8 December) and paid tribute to the fine job workmen had done in building the station under difficult conditions in the heart of Paris. The cluttered subsoil of the French capital had in fact posed enormous technical difficulties for the builders, and helped push the overall cost so far to almost one billion dollars.
The cost, though, now means that Paris has the world's most advanced urban transport system. Of all the great cities of the world, the President told his audience, the greater Paris area was now the best served.
The people who will get the greatest benefit from this new "Grand Central" station will be residents of the outer suburbs in the west and south east. They will now be able to zip into and out of central Paris at speeds of up to 100 kilometres (63 miles) an hour on the regional expresses.