The Railway bridge of the High Speed Railway, the Netherlands

Screens on Dutch high-speed line bridge prevent disruptions due to strong wind

A large railway operation around the area of Rotterdam will take place in the upcoming period. One of the projects is the placing of windscreens on the railway bridge of the high-speed line (HSL) over the river Hollands Diep. The high-speed line between Amsterdam and Brussels is an important corridor for international train traffic. The windscreens must ensure that trains can also use the railway bridge with strong wind.

The construction works will take place non-stop from november 7 till november 19 on the railways around Rotterdam. Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail issued 18 projects with an exceptional amount of railway construction. An important project for international train traffic is the placing of windscreens on the HSL (High-Speed Line), which both the Thalys to France and the Eurostar to the United Kingdom make use of.

Just Ruitenberg, program manager HSL at ProRail, explains the railway bridge over the river Hollands Diep. “Wind screens will be installed over a length of three kilometers to ensure that the traveler is less bothered by the wind.” He explains that the adjustments to the train services look at how many gusts of wind there are, because they are the most dangerous. At wind force 6 it already happens that trains have to run slower, he says. With wind force 8 or 9 trains cannot use the railway bridge. With the placing of the windscreens, the nuisance to train traffic will decrease.

Expertise from France

“If the wind is too strong, we will no longer be able to place the screens properly and therefore there is a risk that we will not be able to finish it completely in the time planned for it. This is a unique operation. During the preparations, the project team visited France to gain expertise on how to protect such a high bridge against wind. In France there is a viaduct many hundreds of meters high. In addition, the project team spoke with the French railways, who have a lot of knowledge about high-speed rolling stock.”

“During the decommissioning, 25 to 40 people are always at work. The employees who install the windshields are in harnesses as fall protection, because they have to work on the edge of the bridge. The windscreens have already been pre-built by a steel and glass builder outside of this location. They are brought here by work trains and trucks. Then, the screens are put in place with a special crane that construction group BAM has developed for this purpose.”

Other operations

In addition to the installation of wind screens on the HSL railway bridge, many other activities are taking place between Rotterdam and Barendrecht. Thirty switches will be replaced or removed, and the overhead line system and the train protection system will be adapted. Rails and sleepers are being replaced in the Willemsspoortunnel. In addition, maintenance is carried out on the track around Rotterdam Central and Barendrecht.

Because all these activities are combined, the inconvenience for travelers will be minimized. According to ProRail, it was not possible to have the work take place during the school holidays due to railway work elsewhere in the Netherlands.

Author: Esther Geerts

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