Sunday, 11 December 2011

Métro Parisien 1905

The postcard above shows the stupendous engineering works underway in Place Saint-Michel in 1904-5 when Métro line 4 was under construction. This is the point where the tunnel passes beneath the Seine en-route for Porte d’Orleans in the south of the city. Construction techniques had greatly advanced in the decades since London built its first underground lines and the new line was described in detail in the pages of The Sphere magazine from December 1905 reproduced below. The subterranean gloom on the postcards has vanished from today’s Métro where the system runs with a level of reliability and efficiency that Londoners can only dream of. The network continues to expand – an extension of line 4 from Porte d’Orleans to Montrouge will open next year and other schemes exist elsewhere in the city. The French find ways to finance their infrastructure projects from public funds without resorting to the ruinous public-private partnerships that stifle progress in the neo-liberal capital of Babylon on Thames. The state-owned RATP that has responsibility for all public transport in the Paris region has recently acquired London United Busways and operates 80 routes across London. Presumably the profits they make can be applied toward the cost of developing new projects for the benefit of Parisians.

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