Vinci and Spie win $565m “underground cathedral” at La Défense

French rail operator SNCF Réseau has awarded the contract to build a railway station for Paris’ La Défense to a joint venture between Vinci Construction and Spie Batignolles.

The financial enclave, Europe’s largest purpose-built business district, is to be linked to Paris by the €3.7bn ($4.2bn) westward extension of the city’s RER Line E.

La Défense station, to be located beneath the iconic CNIT (short for Centre of New Industries and Technologies) dome, is the main element in the work.

Vinci described the contract, valued at €496m ($595m) as "a highly technical project that entails building an underground cathedral while supporting the existing structures and ensuring operational continuity of the site".

All the CNIT offices, shops and hotel must continue to function normally throughout the duration of the works.

A section through the new station (Setec-Egis-Duthilleul-Arep)

Apart from the underground structural work, the joint venture will also build one kilometre of tunnels, a 40-m-deep and 15-m-diameter shaft, and a large number of underground pedestrian corridors enabling connections between the RER E and A lines, the L and U lines of the Transilien and the T2 Tramway.

Starting this summer, the work will continue for five years, and will be carried out by a number of Vinci subsidiaries, including Vinci Grands Projets, civil engineers Dodin Campenon Bernard and Soletanche Bachy, and Botte Fondations. The Spie units involved will be Spie Batignolles TPCI, which handles underground work, and Spie Fondations.

Top image: The CNIT dome, where the station will be located (David Monniaux/Wikimedia Commons)

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