French state-owned railway operator Societé National Chémin des Fers (SNCF) has unveiled plans for a major overhaul of Paris’s Gare du Nord station in preparation for the Olympic Games due to take place in the capital in 2024.

The project, which will be run in partnership with contractors Ceetrus, will see the station treble its size in a bid to meet the rise in passenger numbers expected in coming years. As part of the deal, Ceetrus and SNCF Gares & Connexions will operate the station for a period of 35 to 46 years.

The expansion has been praised as an effort to transform the Gare du Nord into a ‘symbolic station of the 21st century’, which will be able to accommodate an extra 100,000 passengers per day.

SNCF president Guillaume Pepy said the project has been long awaited and that the station will resemble London St Pancras station. As part of the overhaul, Gare du Nord will have an enlarged departure hall, an extended Eurostar terminal, major accessibility improvements and a new station front on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis Street.

Paris’s most iconic train station will also feature a bigger public floor space, which will be increased from 15,000m2 to more than 37,000m2 , as well as a redesigned bus station and more parking for bicycles. The hub’s rebuilt roof is going to have an area dedicated to sports, including a basketball court and a golfing ground. 

According to SNCF, the redesigned departure terminal will be inspired by the 19th century Haussmanian concept of the ‘passage Parisien’, featuring a gallery 18m high and 300m wide, offering railway, intermodal and commercial services.

SNCF Gares & Connexions chief executive Patrick Ropert said: “Each time we transform a train station in Paris, we transform part of a Parisian neighbourhood. Paris Gare du Nord will become the symbolic station of the 21st century, by ensuring the availability of the maximum number of services, adapted to the needs of our society. Tripling the size of Gare du Nord station for the 2024 Olympics is a huge challenge which we are undertaking with great determination and pride”.

The revamped Gare du Nord is also to set environmentally-friendly standards, with public green spaces and ecological energy production. According to SNCF, the station currently hosts 700,000 travellers per day, though the figure is to increase to 900,000 by 2030. The growth is due to an increase in long-distance services to the north of France, Eurostar services, the extension of the RER E line to west Paris and the upcoming opening of the train line to Charles De Gaulle Airport.    

Real estate developer Ceetrus and SNCF Gares & Connexions will form a joint venture, with the former set to own 66% of the station and the latter the remaining 34%.

Ceetrus president Vinney Mulliez said: “It is a project that combines the high stakes of tomorrow’s urban lifestyle: lively, animated areas for passenger flows that become true living spaces, the role of retail and its evolution, user needs, reconnecting with the city. The Gare du Nord project illustrates the commitment of Ceetrus and its ambition to become a global urban player, serving citizens and the cities of tomorrow while enhancing their daily lives.”