Paris’s Gare du Nord, which serves 200 million passengers a year, more than any other train station in Europe, badly needs a face-lift. State-owned SNCF, which runs France’s railroad network, says it will spend close to $64 million during the next four years to clean the station up and make it more comfortable.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

Paris’s Gare du Nord, which serves 200 million passengers a year, more than any other train station in Europe, badly needs a face-lift. State-owned SNCF, which runs France’s railroad network, says it will spend close to $64 million during the next four years to clean the station up and make it more comfortable.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

Gare du Nord in Disrepair

Paris’s Gare du Nord, which serves 200 million passengers a year, more than any other train station in Europe, badly needs a face-lift. State-owned SNCF, which runs France’s railroad network, says it will spend close to $64 million during the next four years to clean the station up and make it more comfortable.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

Women look at departure times inside the station. The 50-year-old boards will be replaced by several electronic monitors to avoid people forming crowds that block the passage as people wait for platform announcements.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

Each day 2,100 trains serve the 700,000 travelers who pass through the station.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

Located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris and open about 21 hours a day, the station has become a refuge for the homeless. "For them, it’s safer, drier, warmer, and there are toilets and handy places to eat," says Lotfi Ouanezar, of the FNARS, a group of associations paid by the national rail service SNCF to help homeless people.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

A woman begs for money outside Gare du Nord. The heavy work of the renovation project has just begun after months of scrubbing dust and pigeon droppings. Dirt-collecting anti-pigeon spikes have been removed, and falcons are now released at night twice a month to scare the birds out.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

A drug user on a train at the station. Gare du Nord, from which several of France’s famed high-speed TGVs—or trains à grande vitesse—leave, is also a magnet for homeless people, drug addicts, and illegal immigrants, many of whom live in nearby neighborhoods.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

The mechanical departure board that will be replaced by several electronic monitors.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek

People stand outside the station where a sign reads "Between 2014 and 2018, your station is getting a makeover." When the renovation project is completed, Gare du Nord will include a business center and a bistro managed by a renowned chef.

Photograph by Kim Badawi for Bloomberg Businessweek