High-s peed train, crossing the French countryside (Shutterstock)

SNCF Réseau springtime track work in full bloom in Hauts-de-France

High-s peed train, crossing the French countryside (Shutterstock) Shutterstock

May and its public holidays are fast approaching. For SNCF Réseau, this season is an opportunity to carry out modernisation works throughout France. Several worksites are planned on the 2,862 kilometres of rail lines in the French Hauts-de-France region, making up 10 per cent of the French national network. SNCF Réseau broke down the key elements for RailTech.

More than 1,540 trains run in Hauts-de-France every day, including 1,250 passenger trains. In 2023, SNCF Réseau and its partners plan to invest 501 million euros in the region, of which 170 million euros will be dedicated to the maintenance of the rail network and its 363 regional stations and stops. Of the 37 major projects planned for the region in 2023, several major projects will take place in May, on top of the renovation of the Northern High-Speed Line (LGV Nord), which is currently underway.

The LGV Nord links Paris, the Channel Tunnel and the Belgian border via Lille, with over 200 trains a day, including TGV, Thalys, Lyria, and Eurostar trains. SNCF Réseau has been carrying out a renewal project, which is currently in its ninth year, including the renewal of four expansion devices and 15 kilometres of track, financed at 36.5 million euros. The replacement of the catenary between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Mitry-Claye will take place on the weekends of 1 and 8 May, allowing SNCF Réseau to change its power supply.

Modernisation projects

From 17 April to 16 June, track and switch modernisation work is taking place at the Saint-Omer and Pont-d’Ardres stations on the Lille-Calais line. The work will renew 1.5 kilometres of rails, 2,000 tonnes of ballast and three switches. The flagship operation of this 4.7-million-euro project will take place over the weekend of 6 to 7 May. During this period, SNCF teams will be working day and night to replace three switches leading to the Saint-Omer platforms with new switches manufactured in Chambly. Rail traffic will therefore be interrupted between Hazebrouck and Calais on the weekends of 6 and 7 May. The same will apply from 3 to 4 June, and during the week from 17 April to 16 June.

Renewal projects

First, SNCF Réseau is renewing 16 kilometres of track on the Saint-Quentin – Douai line, between the Busigny and Somain stations. To this end, 250 people and 2 factory trains will be mobilised during 45 nights of work. The cost of this project is of 29 million euros. From 6 March to 6 May 2023, over 34 kilometres of rail, 27,500 track sleepers and almost 28,000 tonnes of ballast will be renewed. The two factory trains used are named Traverse Evolution (TEVO) and Rail Evolution (REVO). During the ballast renewal, they sort and screen the used ballast and reuse the screened ballast for the tracks. As a result, 20 per cent of the ballast used for track renewal is recycled.

TEVO and REVO (Photo: SNCF)
TEVO and REVO (Photo: SNCF)

Second, in May, work is also continuing at the Lille-Flandres station. SNCF Réseaux is renewing tracks 2 to 9, six kilometres of rails, 4,800 track sleepers, 7,750 tonnes of ballast and one switch. The work related to new rails, sleepers and ballast will take place overnight, from 13 March to 8 July 2023. The replacement of the last switch will take place on the weekend of 17-18 June. SNCF Réseau has invested more than 20 million euro in this project since 2019 to maintain the safety and performance of this key station, through which 600 trains and 80,000 passengers pass each day. Train traffic will be adapted between 13 March and 8 July. Most of the work will take place at night, although some traffic disruption is expected in mid-June.

Lille Flandres Station (Photo: SNCF)
Lille Flandres Station (Photo: SNCF)

Thirdly, SNCF Réseau is renewing the rails on the Crépy-en-Valois – Laon line, between Crépy-en-Valois and Villers-Cotterêts. This 8.74 million euro project is being made possible by financial support from the Hauts-de-France Region (75.78 per cent) and the State (15.72 per cent). SNCF Réseau is contributing 8.5 per cent. The works, which will take place between 24 March to 27 May 2023, aim to renew 25 kilometres of track. The main work will take place over seven consecutive weekends, from 24 March to 5 May, requiring interruptions to traffic on the line. The rails will be replaced by “Long Welded Rails” to ensure better comfort for passengers. Traffic will therefore be completely cut off at weekends from 25 to 26 March, all weekends in April, and from 6 to 7 May. A replacement bus service will be provided.

Lastly, SNCF Réseau has been renewing the rail network at Tergnier since 23 January. The work involves renovating the station switches and replacing the two metal decks of the railway bridge over the Boulevard Gambetta. To guarantee the safety and performance of the rail network, 100 people will be mobilised for this major operation. A one-off operation took place over the Easter weekend, and the finishing work will continue at night until the beginning of May. The work should be completed by 10 June 2023. This 6.2-million-euro project is fully funded by SNCF Réseau. The Amiens-Tergnier-Laon line will have to be adapted for rail traffic.

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Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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