image: Infrabel

More lines in Belgium reopen, but new rain causes delay

Ironically, more downpours delay the repair of some railways in Belgium, which are already damaged by flooding.  Because the important freight corridor from the North Sea to the Mediterranean is still paralysed, Infrabel is examining alternative routes, but with limited options.

Due to downpours last weekend, a number of embankments next to the track subsided on the track between Wavre and Sint-Joris-Weert, to the right of Brussels. Repair work on the track, needed after severe floods caused immense damage and disturbances almost two weeks ago, has been delayed as a result. Trains will therefore only be able to run again from August 9, where it was previously expected that this would be possible again from August 2.

The Liege-Maastricht line opened eleven days earlier than expected, on Thursday 22 July. The international route was supposed to open on 2 August. The railways around Pepinster in the east of the country will take the longest to repair, now scheduled for August 30.

Heavy rainfall, again

While Infrabel informed RailTech.be earlier today that the heavy rainfall of this weekend will not affect the repair work on the Walloon railway, this is now changed. Due to downpours last weekend, a number of embankments, sloping surfaces next to elevated railways, subsided on the track between Wavre and Sint-Joris-Weert.

The upper left red line on the map between st. Joris- Weert and Waver, indicating it should open on August 2, will now open on August 9

In addition, large mounds of earth have ended up on the tracks, so repair works are also necessary there. The signage has also suffered additional damage, with Infrabel having to wait for a number of parts for repair that cannot be delivered immediately.

Alternative freight route

The important North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor runs through the provinces that were heavily hit by the flooding. It connects the ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Ghent with southern Europe. Many alternative detour routes are also impassable for the time being.

Infrabel says it is investigating alternative options and is in talks with customers and foreign infrastructure managers. For example, one of the options that it looks at is a diversion via Paris. “To go from the Flemish ports to France and Italy, you can also go via Kortrijk (from Zeebrugge and Ghent) or via Ghent (from Antwerp) to Mouscron to cross the French border to Lille and continue to Paris”, said Infrabel spokesman Thomas Baeken to sister title Railfreight.

The damage

The estimated costs for the railway network restoration in Belgium range between 30 and 50 million euros. That was the case last week, with persisting high water levels and an unclear picture of the overall damage. As Infrabel’s spokesperson Thomas Baeken said earlier, the infrastructure manager still had to wait and see before making a comprehensive assessment of the situation.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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