The social and economic impact of the RER is difficult to overstate. Journey times, particularly on east-west and north-south routes, have been cut spectacularly (and thanks to the cross-platform connection at Châtelet - Les Halles, even "diagonal" trips are rapid). As a result, the network has been an extraordinary popular success since its opening.
Lines A and B reached saturation relatively quickly, exceeding by far all traffic expectations: up to 55,000 passengers per hour in each direction on Line A, the highest such figure in the world outside of East Asia. Despite a frequency of more than one train every two minutes, made possible by the installation of digital signalling in 1989, and the partial introduction of double-decker trains since 1998, the central stations of Line A are critically crowded at peak times. Since both Métro and surface transport are equally congested at these times (and significantly slower), the RER's value to the economy of Île de France cannot be doubted.
Used for leisure journeys, the RER represents no less of a revolution. By bringing far-flung suburbs within easy reach of central Paris, the network has significantly aided the reintegration of the traditionally insular capital with its periphery. The evidence of this social impact can be seen at Châtelet - Les Halles, whose neighbourhood is now crowded with suburbanites on evenings and weekends.
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