At the Gare du Nord, Stessy and Joyce-Lee are chatting on platform 43. Half an hour after the curfew, groups of travelers still congregate, this Thursday evening, to take the RER B. The loudspeakers spit out safety messages at regular intervals. And this famous alert number – 31177 – resonates in the eardrums of the most frightened travelers. Travelers. “At that hour, here, it’s rare that there are no people, reassure the two friends, their eyes attentive to their respective babies. After Aulnay-sous-Bois and at the end of the line, it’s different. “
While security, especially in transport, has become a key theme for candidates in regional elections, Stessy and Joyce-Lee, aged in their thirties, admit having already “been afraid”. “We are on our guard, especially in certain metro stations such as Barbès or Clignancourt, where we know that there are quite a few patients. “
Headphones, women’s best ally … but without music
Over the years and trips on this line which crosses several sensitive cities, these residents of Sevran (Seine-Saint-Denis) have deployed tips to repel unwelcome visitors. Change places, get off and get on another car. And especially “the headphones”, they designate as a shield. “But there’s no music, so you can glance aside and watch,” Stessy smiles.
First stop: the Stade de France. A wave is coming down. In the last light of day, the immense station open to the four winds impresses. But this former reassures: “Nothing to fear”.
In the still packed train, Marie, 24, dozes, seated in the middle of the train, her head resting against the window. His nightmare? “The rubbers. When you’re up, it’s hell, any time of the day. But the crazy guys, it is especially from 8 pm. When you’re used to it, it’s less scary, and then I still have my headphones. “
Sitting in front of her, Sarah looks up and nods. This 25-year-old mother has used the RER B every day for three years to go to work in a hairdressing salon in Paris. On a daily basis, journeys punctuated by misadventures weigh heavily. “It’s rare, a week without a story,” she says. So much so that the morning is often a topic of conversation with colleagues. Some even change their outfit to be quiet. Not Sarah. “I dress as I want. I am big mouth. There is no choice. At least like that, it gives the alert, people turn around. “
A man shows his cock
But the other week, the young woman did not lead off: “A guy too bizarre was walking in the train with his pants down, we could see his penis. We were afraid he would touch us. Sarah and other girls gathered at the back of the wagon: “A number of people are reassured. If there had been a policeman, he would have taken him out. “The traveler assures him:” We see some but never in the right place. Often they are in the Gare du Nord, rarely on the platforms and never on the trains. “
That evening, no need for a security guard. The armchairs are now sparse. The only drunk guy dozed off, perched across the armchairs, a beer still in his hand. When, on the other hand, two young men with the builds of basketball players exchange a few words. They never had any problems. Quite the contrary.
“Last time a guy ripped off a girl’s phone just when the train was about to leave. I nabbed him at the door. I couldn’t help but react, cowardly Cheuck, 23. Each time, it’s the same on this line from Drancy, Le Bourget, there are always problems. In December, a train conductor was violently assaulted at Sevran-Livry station, while asking a passenger to put out his cigarette.
The lights of Mitry-Mory (Seine-et-Marne) can be guessed. The terminus is approaching. Stéphanie, 46, will be able to repackage her screen. For its part, no insecurity on the horizon. Every other week, she takes the RER B for work: “We can see the railway patrols passing.”
“Before, it was a disaster”
Jimmy, 25, confirms: “The line has been secure for a while. Before, it was a disaster. “Before? When the young Mitryen went to university via Aubervilliers-La Courneuve. “There were always problems,” he recalls. Theft of handbags, phones, fights …
It is 11 p.m. On the quay, an agent is watching. Passengers rush into the underground. Before scattering like ghosts. The lights illuminate quays empty of any soul. The station master lowers the iron curtain. End of the day.