On 11 February 2019, the French state, represented by the Minister for Transport Elisabeth Borne, and Société Gestionnaire d’Infrastructure CDG Express signed the concession contract to finance, build and operate the CDG Express airport rail infrastructure. The concession was approved by decree of the Prime Minister on 14 February 2019, and was published in the Official Journal on 16 February 2019.
CDG Express will connect Gare de l’Est in central Paris with Terminal 2 at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, covering the 32 kilometre route non-stop. Trains will run every 15 minutes in each direction, from 5 a.m. to midnight, every day of the year. Travel time is expected to be approximately 20 minutes.
The connection is due to open on 1 January 2024, a few months before Paris hosts the summer Olympics.
Société Gestionnaire d’Infrastructure CDG Express is a consortium between SNCF Réseau, Aéroports de Paris and Caisse des dépôts et consignations. The infrastructure is set to cost EUR 1.8 billion, plus approximately EUR 300 million of financing costs. Of this total amount, more than EUR 500 million will finance improvements to the existing RER B line that currently links Paris to its busiest airport.
The financing plan includes around EUR 400 million of equity to be contributed by shareholders from the outset of the project by way of a bridge loan granted by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A., BNP Paribas, KFW Ipex-Bank Gmbh and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, as well as a loan for a maximum of EUR 1.7 billion granted to Société Gestionnaire d’Infrastructure CDG Express by the French state, in line with the Finance Act for 2018. Project costs will be covered by ticketing sales and a tax specific to CDG Express applied to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport passengers (excluding transit passengers) from 2024, established by the Amending Finance Act for 2016.
The French state was advised by Gide Loyrette Nouel, with teams led by Thomas Courtel for the drafting and negotiation of the concession contract, Emmanuel Vital-Durand for the official declaration of the project as being of public interest, and Laetitia Lemercier for the negotiation of the financing with Société Gestionnaire d’Infrastructure CDG Express. The teams have been working on this project since 2015.
Société Gestionnaire d’Infrastructure CDG Express was advised by Weil Gotshal & Manges, and also by Linklaters.
The banks that put in place the equity bridge loan were advised by Allen & Overy.
SNCF Réseau was advised by Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier.
Aéroports de Paris was advised by Hogan Lovells.
Caisse des dépôts was advised by Herbert Smith Freehills.
The financial advisor to the French state was Ernst & Young. The financial advisor to Société Gestionnaire d’Infrastructure CDG Express was HSBC.