The predominance of suburban SNCF track on the RER network explains why RER trains use overhead line power and run on the left, like SNCF trains (except in Alsace-Moselle), contrary to the Métro where trains use third rail power and run on the right. RER trains run by the two different operators share the same track infrastructure, a practice called interconnection. On the RER, interconnection required the development of specific trains (MI 79 series for Materiel d'Interconnexion 1979, and MI 2N series for Materiel d'Interconnexion à 2 niveaux (double-deck interconnection stock)) capable of operating under both 1.5 kV direct current on the RATP network and 25 kV / 50 Hz alternating current on the SNCF network. The MS 61 series (Matériel Suburbain 1961) can be used only on the 1.5 kV DC network.
The RER's tunnels have unusually large cross-sections. This is due to a 1961 decision to build according to a standard set by the Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer, with space for overhead catenary power supply to trains. Single-track tunnels measure 6.30 m across and double-track tunnels up to 8.70 m, meaning a cross-sectional area of up to 50 square metres, larger than that of the stations on many comparable underground rail networks.
The first RER rolling stock in fact predated the formation of the RER by 40 years, with the Z 23000 stock used on the ligne de Sceaux (which was subsequently integrated into RER B) from 1937 until February 27, 1987. In 1965 the Z 5300 train was introduced, followed by the MS 61 in 1967 (refurbished 1985-1987 and 2006-2009), MS 79 in 1980, MS 84 and Z 8800 in 1985, Z 20500 in 1998, MI 2N in 1996, Z 20900 in 2001 and MI 09 on December 5, 2011.
MS 61 (original version, type A/B) at Rueil-Malmaison
MS 61 (later version, type C/D) at Champigny
MS 61 (later version, type E/Ex) at Rueil-Malmaison
MS 61 (refurbished 2006-2009) at Boissy-Saint-Léger
MI 79 at Gare du Nord
MI 84 at Gare de Poissy
MI 2N at Gare d'Achères-Ville
Z 5600 approaching Lardy
Z 20500 approaching Le Mée-sur-Seine
Z 20900 at Gare du Nord
Z 22500 at Gare de Chelles - Gournay
Historic Z 23000 stock on line B (ligne de Sceaux), June 1982
Read more about this topic: RER
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