Don’t ask for the train at all costs. But he calls for at least one serious study. The mayor of La Ferté-Gaucher, Michel Jozon (SE), does not understand that he refuses to study the return of the train to his village. An even more incomprehensible refusal because the rails have not been dismantled and the land still belongs to SNCF Réseau. Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM), the organizing authority and, therefore, the real decision-maker in this case, advances the high cost of this study to justify its refusal.
Let’s go back. Until 2002, the train passed through La Ferté-Gaucher. It came from Coulommiers and then headed east to Sézanne (Marne). The section between La Ferté-Gaucher and Sézanne was closed in 1972 (now a tourist bike lane passes through part of this old line). In 2002 it was the turn of the Coulommiers – La Ferté-Gaucher section to close to passengers. From nothing. The small village station of 4,800 inhabitants is still standing, waiting for travelers to return. It is located in the middle of an intercommunity of 27,000 inhabitants. But in the area, the house sprouts like mushrooms. In La Ferté-Gaucher alone, 150 homes will be built by the end of 2023.
“We are not asking for a direct line to Paris,” said Mayor (SE) Michel Jozon. “We are talking about a shuttle between our city and Coulommiers. I ask for a complete and global study. We sent a study request to IDFM, which abruptly said no, based on a 2011 paper. I have a hard time understanding its position. IDF Mobilités cannot answer us on the basis of a document that is more than ten years old. Intellectually and technically, it is impossible. »
A study that would cost more than 100,000 euros
Remembering the characteristics of this railway line (with a single track, which prevents the passage of trains) but forgetting to emphasize that there are no works of art (ie bridges or tunnels) which makes the cost of putting it back into service is very high. IDFM confirms that it is against the project. “Given the significant investments that need to be made in relation to weak demand, Île-de-France Mobilités has issued a negative opinion on the project to reopen the line to passenger traffic. And even the feasibility study was rejected by the transport union. Anonymously, an IDFM executive justifies this inadmissibility: “This type of study can represent a significant investment. That means hundreds of thousands of euros or even more. The project seems complicated, too expensive for too few people. We spend public money and avoid launching studies on projects with such weak foundations. »
“Don’t entertain false hopes”
Coulommiers Mayor Laurence Picard (Agir) is also against the principle of a study on the return of the train. “It is legitimate that the new mayor of La Ferté-Gaucher (Michel Jozon was first elected mayor of La Ferté-Gaucher in 2020, succeeding Yves Jaunaux (LR), Ed.) make this request. But we have made progress on a smooth connection project between our two municipalities. (…) It will cover the current rails. Everything is imaginable from there, even the electric shuttles circulating there. The president of the community of communes of the two Morins and mayor of Doue, to which La Ferté-Gaucher belongs, Jean-François Delesalle (SE), also opposes the return of the train. “You should not have false hopes. The 4,800 inhabitants of the Ferté-Gaucher do not justify this investment. The industrial fabric of the sector does not require the opening of a line of goods,” he said. Also for him, the future of the line is “a greenway that would be an opportunity to develop tourism.”
The nerve of war is, therefore, the price it costs. And this way of thinking exasperates Didier Le Reste, a former railway worker and president of the Paris-based Convergence nationale rail association. He wrote a letter to IDFM in May 2021 to reopen the railway line between La Ferté-Gaucher and Coulommiers. “We are always told about the cost, but never what it would cost. However, the train means less pollution, fewer patients, less saturation of the D 934 and fewer accidents. There is a gap between the statements of environmental intentions, especially in the region, and the actions. ”
“World before versus world after”
The return of the train between La Ferté-Gaucher and Coulommiers is far from a matter of consensus among official transport agents. If IDFM has made it clear that it was against it, SNCF executives, on condition of anonymity, believe that this project is far from outlandish. “Without a doubt, the cost is around one million euros per kilometer,” explains a senior manager of the SNCF galaxy. This would mean 18 million euros to link La Ferté-Gaucher and Coulommiers. Once installed, the rails can last at least sixty years. It is much more than a road that must be constantly maintained. And then, if public transportation is efficient, residents are more inclined to leave the car. This means that we would have more assistance than line 17 of the Seine-et-Marne Express departmental bus network. »
Above all, our interlocutor points out that “the Bry-Villiers-Champigny station, which should open in 2025, will connect the P line branch that goes to Coulommiers with the RER E and metro line 15”. In short, La Ferté-Gaucher could thus be connected to the rest of the Île-de-France by rail.
If there is a blockade, according to Didier Le Reste, then it is mostly “political”. The same story by our SNCF official who is much more severe in his assessment of the file. “It is the world before against the world after. In the midst of all this, the mayor of La Ferté-Gaucher, Michel Jozon, is fighting for his city not to sink into despair. : the ArjoWiggins bin and the V&B Fliesen pottery factory (formerly Villeroy & Boch).