Report - - Demolition of the Paris Metro, 2007-2010. ANTIBTDI. | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Demolition of the Paris Metro, 2007-2010. ANTIBTDI.


si ce que tu dis est vrai
28DL Full Member
The Paris Metro and the service it provides are deeply intertwined into the fabric of the city. As the 4.5 million Parisians who ride it every day will probably attest it's the quickest way around whether it's for work, for play or both. The metro's distinctive art-nouveau style is unmistakable and the plant like green wrought iron entrances topped with the orange orbs and Metropolitan signage designed by Hector Guimard which sprout up all over the city lead one down to the gleaming white tiled platforms to be whisked away all over the city. On my first trip to Paris I arrived into Gare du Nord and entered the dense maze that is the metro. Despite the crowds, the noise and the distinct odour of piss, I was in love. The kind of love which inspires one to risk life, limb and deportation to get up close and personal.

The History
On 20 April 1896 the project to construct an underground transportation system for the city of Paris began. Four short years later the Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris (CMP) opened their first line, running east-west from Porte Maillot–Porte de Vincennes. Not long after that the CMP was joined by the Société du chemin de fer électrique souterrain Nord-Sud de Paris (Nord-Sud) and between the two companies almost all of the 10 lines initially planned for Paris were built by 1920. Initially these lines served only the city of Paris (the snobby residents even went to far as to ensure the metro ran right hand side, to guarantee non-interoperability with the left hand side system in the suburbs) but in the 30's - 50's the suburbs were finally connected. Today Paris' metro is still growing and changing through constant renovations, line extensions and currently the conversion of more lines to use the driverless robotrains like those of line 14.

Back in October 2007 sometime after midnight and before the first trains rolled into regular service, qx and I took our first timid steps onto the tracks of the Paris metro. With more nervousness and care than I'd like to admit we gingerly stepped down between the metal rails just off the end of a platform wondering what madness had possessed us to do so. We'd never done Metro like this before and this scary new world was full of elements we didn't understand at all. Looking at every rail critically working out which carried the power, asking ourselves so many questions: how far could the electricity arc, would that even happen, could the cameras on the platform see us, did security wait in the tunnels after hours, were there any trains after service, if so how fast did they go, did anyone live in the tunnels, would be encounter writers? We'd heard lots of stories about RATP security forgoing the usual legal punishments and simply beating up those found in the tunnels and kicking them out onto the street. We weren't packing paint but would that matter?

We took a few careful paces into the tunnel then hastily retreated back to the safety of our discreet entrance and back up the ladders up to street level. Our initial forays were short and clearly we had no fucking idea what we were doing but that taste was like a dirty needle in the arm of pure adventure crack. It was enough to get us hooked and we craved it constantly like two dirty fiends.

Over the next few years we were enslaved to this addiction like only those who grew up in a city deprived of metro could be. Week in week our we hit the tunnels, scouring our maps and coming up in the early hours smeared from head to toe in that thick black dust which never fully washes from your clothes. I would wake the morning after with that distinctive smell still hovering in my nostrils, for imbued was it into the fabric of all my clothes, my sheets and my hair. The thick slabs of scunge under our fingernails was like a badge of honour, the black tinge in the folds between thumb and index finger which never faded a symbol of dedication. The symptoms pervaded our appearance, our speech and our dreams. To us the system was an open slate ripe with possibilities. It drew us in and we could only oblige by beginning to dismantle it piece by piece.

The ghost stations
Before developing a deeper appreciation of the system we were drawn initially to the abandoned stations. Some of these seem totally abandoned and haven't been reappropriated for other uses, some have become RATP storage and others, even more rare, were never even open to the public. With time we would conquor them all.

Arsenal, Champ de Mars
The stations Arsenal and Champ de Mars are the easiest to visit as they can be reached from the topside so they're as good a place to begin as any. While situated at opposite sides of the city these two stations share a similar story. They were closed on the same day, 2nd September 1939, when the metro employees were recruited to join the war effort. After the conclusion of the war they were never reopened for general service as they're simply so close to other stations. The paris metro is one of the most dense in the world with an average distance between stations of ~500m.

Following these the next craving one might satiate comes in the form of those abandoned stations which require one to partake in the third rail steeplechase commonly referred to as tunnel running. Obviously one could choose to walk instead of run but unless you're doing this well after service the luxury of a leisurely stroll is not on offer. Whilst the alcoves spread evenly along the tunnel are reasonable concealment they're not foolproof and you're not invisible to the drivers so do yourself a favour and minimise their use. So pack your running shoes and get ready to duck under signal boxes, leap over the points and generally deal with all the problems that come with running over an unforgiving mess of wooden sleepers, metal points, rocky ballast and tangled cables.

Good form is to, as the train passes by, launch oneself from the alcove down the half meter wide gap between the third rail and the tunnel wall. This isn't the olympics so nobody expects gazelle like speed and grace, the uneven rocky metro ballast will see to that. Ideally the front runner watches ahead for trains, the last watches behind and if you've a third they can count how long you've been running for. It's also prudent to watch for electrical boxes and the like protruding from the walls which require one to duck and weave while still avoid the third rail beside your knee. Knocking oneself unconscious, falling on the juicer and being pulped will crimp your day. Faites attention! With each alcove assess the situation, consider how far it is to the next (if you're lucky enough to see the damn thing) and decide whether to stop and wait or cast those fucking dice again and keep running.

Croix-Rouge (red cross) station was the original terminus for line 10 which operated for only 16 years before it, like the two aforementioned stations, closed in 1939 for the war. Similarly it was never opened again for public use. Like Arsenal, Champ de Mars and Saint Martin, Croix-Rouge can be seen from the windows of the passing train as it lies on regular service track. Using this as a guide we judged the distance we'd need to run to get the station and thinking it wasn't too far I invited my gf along for a look. She cautiously accepted which to her misfortune was totally validated when we discovered the distance was far greater than estimated. I doubt I'll ever be totally forgiven.