Belgium’s Liefkenshoek rail tunnel inaugurated

liefkenshoek_006Infrabel, the Belgian railway infrastructure manager, officially inaugurated, on December 9, the Liefkenshoek rail link, set to open to traffic on 14 December 2014.
The project establishes an additional link between the two banks of the Escaut estuary in the Port of Antwerp, currently Europe’s second-largest port, to accommodate an increase in goods traffic and free up capacity on the suburban rail lines to decongest the road network.
The double-track electrified line took six years to construct and links Waaslandhaven and Deurganck docks on the west bank of the River Schelde with Antwerp North marshalling yard on the east bank via a 6.7km tunnel beneath the river which is the longest railway tunnel in Belgium.
The maximum speed in the tunnel is 90km/h and the link is equipped with ETCS Level 2, in line with Infrabel’s strategy to equip the entire Belgian main line network with ETCS by 2022.
The works, awarded to the LocoRail joint venture and accounting for a total investment of €840 million, were carried out under a public private partnership. The LocoRail joint venture bringing together CFE (25%), VINCI Concessions (25%) and BAM PPP–PGGM (50%) is responsible for financing, designing and building the infrastructure and then maintaining it for a period of 38 years. Financing is provided by the EIB (European Investment Bank) and six commercial banks: Bayern LB, Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING, Banco Santander and Société Générale.

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