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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Belgium’s longest rail tunnel completed

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Major construction work on the Liefkenshoek rail link, the new direct freight link between the left and right banks of Antwerp in Belgium, is now complete.

The newly-constructed twin tunnels under the Scheldt River and Kanaaldok are about six kilometres long, which makes them the longest rail tunnels in Belgium.

It is also the biggest railway construction site in the country, with several hundreds of people working there at peak times.
Tunnel construction works started in November 2008 and have now been largely completed, although some work is still going on in the right hand bank.

Belgian rail infrastructure manager Infrabel has already started laying the tracks and installing the signal system and overhead lines on the section between the South yard and the Beveren rail tunnel, with a view to begin testing next spring.

Financing, design, construction and maintenance is being undertaken by a PPP contract with Locorail, a joint venture of BAM PPP, CFE and Vinci Concessions.

Locorail has shouldered most of the cost of the new tunnel, ploughing 690 million euros into the project. Additional funding, including 107 million euros from the Flemish Region, has also come from European Investment Bank (EIB) and six other commercial banks

The 16.2 kilometre, double-track rail link consists of 4.8 kilometres of embankment, 4.2 kilometres of open and covered trench, 1.2 kilometres of existing tunnel – reopening of the already built but never used Beveren rail tunnel – and almost six kilometres of double-bored tunnel with an internal diameter of 7.3 metres.

The new route is due to come into service in September 2014.

Report from The Rail Engineer – edited by GRN

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