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RER A train at the underground La Défense station
Connecting linesParis Métro Paris Métro Line 1 Paris Métro Line 2 Paris Métro Line 3 Paris Métro Line 4 Paris Métro Line 6 Paris Métro Line 7 Paris Métro Line 8 Paris Métro Line 9 Paris Métro Line 11 Paris Métro Line 14
Transilien Transilien Line J (Paris-Saint-Lazare) Transilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare) Transilien Line R (Paris-Gare-de-Lyon) Transilien Line U
Tramways in Île-de-France Île-de-France tramway Line 2 Île-de-France tramway Line 13
TypeRapid transit/commuter rail
SystemRéseau Express Régional
Rolling stockMI 2N, MI 09
Ridership300 million journeys per year
Opened8 December 1977
(last extension in 1994)
Line length108.5 km (67.4 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Route map
 A3  Cergy-le-Haut
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
TransilienTransilien Line J (Paris-Saint-Lazare)Transilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
TransilienTransilien Line J (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
Poissy  A5 
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
Tramways in Île-de-FranceÎle-de-France tramway Line 13
Saint-Germain-en-Laye  A1 
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
Le Vésinet–Le Pecq
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
Le Vésinet–Centre
TransilienTransilien Line J (Paris-Saint-Lazare)Transilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)
RERRER E TransilienTransilien Line L (Paris-Saint-Lazare)Transilien Line U Paris MétroParis Métro Line 1 Tramways in Île-de-FranceÎle-de-France tramway Line 2
La Défense
Paris MétroParis Métro Line 1Paris Métro Line 2Paris Métro Line 6
Charles de Gaulle–Étoile
RERRER E Paris MétroParis Métro Line 3Paris Métro Line 7Paris Métro Line 8Paris Métro Line 9Paris Métro Line 12Paris Métro Line 13Paris Métro Line 14
RERRER BRER D Paris MétroParis Métro Line 1Paris Métro Line 4Paris Métro Line 7Paris Métro Line 11Paris Métro Line 14
Châtelet–Les Halles
RERRER D TransilienTransilien Line R (Paris-Gare-de-Lyon) Paris MétroParis Métro Line 1Paris Métro Line 14 SNCF
Gare de Lyon
Paris MétroParis Métro Line 1Paris Métro Line 2Paris Métro Line 6Paris Métro Line 9
Val de Fontenay
Bus  Tvm Paris MétroParis Métro Line 15*
Le Parc de Saint-Maur
Noisy-le-Grand – Mont d'Est
Paris MétroParis Métro Line 15Paris Métro Line 16*
La Varenne–Chennevières
Boissy-Saint-Léger  A2 
Val d'Europe
 A4  Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy

Disabled access all stations are accessible, except Achères–Grand-Cormier

(*) Under construction

RER A is one of the five lines in the Réseau Express Régional (English: Regional Express Network), a hybrid commuter rail and rapid transit system serving Paris, France and its suburbs. The 108.5-kilometre (67.4 mi) line crosses the region from east to west, with all trains serving a group of stations in central Paris, before branching out towards the ends of the line.

The initial portion of the line was built in stages between December 1969 and December 1977 by connecting two existing suburban commuter rail lines with a new tunnel under Paris: the line between Vincennes and Boissy-Saint-Léger in the east (which formerly terminated at the now-closed Gare de la Bastille), and the line between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Nanterre line in the west (which formerly used a surface alignment to Paris Saint-Lazare which is still in use as Transilien L). The viaduct between Vincennes and the former Gare de la Bastille terminus was redeveloped into the Promenade plantée elevated park in 1993.[1]

Since opening, three additional branches have been added: one in the east serving Marne-la-Vallée and Disneyland Paris and two to the west serving Poissy and Cergy.

The RER A has had a significant social impact on Paris and the surrounding region by speeding up trips across central Paris, by making far fewer stops than the Paris Métro and by bringing far-flung suburbs within easy reach of the city centre. The line has far exceeded all traffic expectations, currently serving over 1.2 million passengers per day, on about 300 million journeys per year. It is one of the busiest metro lines in Europe.

Popular success and responses[edit]

The line has far exceeded all traffic expectations, currently serving over 1.2 million passengers per day, on about 300 million journeys per year.[2][3] It has been argued that this makes the RER A the busiest single rail line outside of East Asia.[4] Ever-increasing traffic volume and the need to ward off imminent saturation have been major factors in RATP and SNCF's planning since the inauguration of the line.

Several major capital investments have been made to relieve overcrowding on the line:

  • The line's traditional signalling block system, which allowed only one train to occupy a "block" of track, was replaced in September 1989 with a dynamic traffic control system. The Système d'aide à la conduite, à l'exploitation et à la maintenance or SACEM (English: Driver Assistance, Operation, and Maintenance System) enables extremely short spacing between trains, increasing capacity on the line. The SACEM system is scheduled to be replaced in the mid- to late-2020s with an even more advanced communications-based train control system.
  • Paris Métro Line 14, which opened 15 October 1998, was built on a route that would relieve congestion on the segment of RER A that passes through central Paris.
  • RER E, which opened 14 July 1999, was built on a route that would also serve the eastern suburbs of Paris and an 8 km (5.0 mi) tunnel has been built under central Paris that connects the RER E to La Défense. The extension will continue past La Défense to allow the RER E to take over the branch of the RER A to Poissy. The project is expected to reduce the load on the central section of the RER A by 10-15%
  • Double-deck trains (MI 2N series) entered service in 1998 to increase the passenger carrying capacity on each run of the RER A. The 43 double-deck trains can carry up to 2,600 people per train, compared to 1,887 people on the older single-deck MS 61 trains. The double-deck trains proved so successful and popular, that RATP placed an order for 140 MI 09 double-deck trains that entered service in 2011, and has replaced all the remaining single-deck trains on the RER A.[5]


A train arriving at Auber while the previous one has not completely cleared the platform, caused by the rapid pace of SACEM.
Inside an MI 84
  • 6 July 1961: First planning begins for tunnel under Paris to connect Étoile to the new La Défense business district. These plans would go on to become the much more ambitious RER A.
  • 14 December 1969: The first Regional Metro segment begins service after RATP purchases the Ligne de Vincennes between Bastille and Boissy-Saint-Léger from SNCF and connects it to a new 2.5 km (1.6 mi) tunnel under Paris between Vincennes and Nation, which replaces Bastille as the terminus. This creates a 17.5 km (10.9 mi) eastern line between Nation and Boissy-Saint-Léger.
  • 19 January 1970: 4 km (2.5 mi) tunnel opens between Étoile and La Défense. Since this tunnel is isolated from the other section, it is operated as a navette (shuttle) service.
  • 23 November 1971: Tunnel extended 2 km (1.2 mi) east to Auber. Shuttle service extended to operate between La Défense and Auber.
  • 1 October 1972: The second Regional Metro segment opens as RATP purchases the Ligne de Saint-Germain between Nanterre-Université and Saint-Germain-en-Laye from SNCF and connects it to a new 2 km (1.2 mi) tunnel to La Défense. This creates a 13 km (8.1 mi) western line between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Auber.
  • 1 October 1973: New infill underground Nanterre–Préfecture station opens.
  • 8 December 1977: The Regional Metro becomes RER A as the final 6 km (3.7 mi) segment under Paris is completed, adding two new underground stations: Gare de Lyon and Châtelet–Les Halles. A portion of this new tunnel is shared with the Ligne de Sceaux which becomes RER B. The newly linked segments create a 42.5 km (26.4 mi) line between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Boissy-Saint-Léger. At the same time, the first segment of the Ligne nouvelle de Marne-la-Vallée (English: New line of Marne-la-Vallée) opens. This new 8.5 km (5.3 mi) branch extends the line east to Noisy-le-Grand-Mont d’Est.
  • 19 December 1980: The Ligne nouvelle de Marne-la-Vallée extended 9 km (5.6 mi) to Torcy.
  • 29 May 1988: "Interconnexion Ouest" (English: West Interconnection) branch added, extending trains 15.5 km (9.6 mi) northwest on SNCF tracks from Nanterre-Préfecture to Cergy-Saint-Christophe.
  • 29 May 1989: 8.5 km (5.3 mi) branch added off the "Interconnexion Ouest" connecting Maisons-Laffitte and Poissy.
  • 1 April 1992: The Ligne nouvelle de Marne-la-Vallée completed with 11 km (6.8 mi) extension to Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy, creating a link to Disneyland Paris, which would open on 12 April 1992.
  • 29 August 1994: Line extended 2.5 km (1.6 mi) west to Cergy-le-Haut, new Neuville-Université station opens.
  • 10 June 2001: New Val d'Europe station opens.

List of RER A stations[edit]



Lineside signal taken over by SACEM (X).


Line A provides two groups of services:

  • St Germain branch – common trunk line – Marne-la-Vallée branch
  • Cergy or Poissy branches – common trunk line – Boissy-saint-léger branch.

During off-peak hours, the Poissy – Noisy services operate every 20 minutes plus a La Défense – Noisy service every 20 minutes, and the St-Germain – Boissy and Cergy – Chessy services operate every 10 minutes.

Operations are very complex during peak periods, with an average of one train every 2 minutes (30 trains / hour) on the common trunk line in the busier direction (east to west in the morning, west to east in the evening), and one train every 2 min 30 sec in the other direction (24 trains / hour). The Marne la Vallée branch has the most intensive service.

Names of services[edit]

RER trains display a "nom de mission" or "name of service", not the name of the destination station. These are invented names designating (and distinguishing) individual services ("runs"), and are accompanied by a two-digit number, for example ZARA59 or DJIB72.

The first letter corresponds to the destination (gare d'arrivée):

Letter To Examples of names of services
D Noisy-le-Grand – Mont d'Est DYNO, DJIN, DOMI
N Boissy-St-Léger NELY, NAGA
Q Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy QUDO, QIKY, QBIK, QAHA
R La Varenne-Chennevières RHIN, RUDI
U Cergy-le-Haut UPAL, UDON, UXOL
W (empty train) WQWZ
X Le Vésinet – Le Pecq XUTI, XOUD
Y Rueil-Malmaison YCAR, YVAN
Z Saint-Germain-en-Laye ZARA, ZEUS, ZINC

The second letter corresponds to the stations served and the origin station: a letter can have different meanings, depending on the destination. For instance, second letter "E" indicates:

The third and fourth letters are used to form a pronounceable name, changed when the service number (odd 01–99 eastward, even 02–98 westward) reaches the maximum. For example, successive trains to Boissy-St-Léger are called NEGE96, NEGE98, then NELY02, NELY04, etc. Each service is uniquely identifiable, as there cannot be two "NEGE" services with the same number in the same day.

Services with the same first two letters serve the same stations, e.g. ZEBU, ZEUS and ZEMA (to Saint-Germain-en-Laye), or NEGE, NELY and NEMO (to Boissy-Saint-Léger). The letters ZZ generally indicate that the established service pattern was changed for an unspecified reason, generally a technical problem which disrupted operations.

Morning Peak[edit]

Every 10 minutes:

  • Boissy – Le Vésinet-Le Pecq, all stations except Nanterre-Ville.
  • La Varenne – St-Germain, all stations except Chatou-Croissy and Le Vésinet-Centre.
  • Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy – Cergy-le-Haut, all stations except Lognes, Noisiel, Bry-sur-Marne, Houilles and Maisons-Laffitte.
  • Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy – Poissy, all stations except Val d'Europe, Bussy-St-Georges, Lognes, Noisy-Champs and Sartrouville.
  • Torcy – Rueil-Malmaison, all stations except Bry, Neuilly-Plaisance and Nanterre-Préfecture.
  • Cergy – Torcy, all stations except Maisons-Laffitte, Houilles, Noisiel and Lognes.
  • Poissy – Chessy, all stations except Neuilly-Plaisance and Bry.
  • St-Germain – Boissy, all stations except Le Vésinet-Centre and Chatou-Croissy.
  • Le Vésinet-Le Pecq – La Varenne, all stations except Nanterre-Préfecture, Vincennes and Fontenay.

Evening Peak[edit]

Every 10 minutes:

  • Cergy – Noisy-le-Grand, all stations except Maisons-Laffitte and Houilles.
  • Poissy – Chessy, all stations except Sartrouville, Bry, Noisiel and Lognes.
  • St-Germain – Boissy, all stations except Nanterre-Ville and Nanterre-Préfecture.
  • Le Vésinet-Le Pecq – La Varenne, all stations except Vésinet-Centre and Chatou-Croissy.
  • La Défense – Torcy, all stations except Neuilly-Plaisance and Bry.
  • Chessy – Poissy, all stations except Bry and Neuilly-Plaisance.
  • Boissy – Le Vésinet-Le Pecq, all stations.
  • Noisy – Cergy-le-Haut, all stations except Houilles and Maisons-Laffitte.
  • La Varenne – St-Germain, all stations except Fontenay, Vincennes, Nanterre-Préfecture, Chatou-Croissy and Le Vésinet-Centre.

Off Peak[edit]

In both directions every 10 minutes:

  • St-Germain-en-Laye – Boissy-St-Léger.
  • Cergy-le-Haut – Marne la Vallée-Chessy.

In both directions every 20 minutes:

  • Poissy – Noisy-le-Grand – Mont d'Est.
  • La Défense – Noisy-le-Grand – Mont d'Est.

Off-peak, a train is scheduled every 3 minutes 20 seconds between La Défense and Vincennes in both directions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Campbell, Robert (12 March 2002). "Viaduc des Arts and Promenade Plantée: A Paris match?". Boston.com. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  2. ^ (in French) LCI.fr: RER A – "10 secondes de retard, 15.000 voyageurs affectés !" Archived 12 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ RATP. "Schéma directeur du RER A" (PDF) (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  4. ^ Gerondeau, Christian (2003). La Saga du RER et le maillon manquant. Presse de l'École nationale des ponts et chaussées. ISBN 2-85978-368-7.
  5. ^ "MI 09 tout neuf" [MI 09 Brand New] (in French). France: MetroPole. 5 December 2011. Archived from the original on 16 January 2012.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to RER A at Wikimedia Commons