Belgium: more lines reopen, serious problems still occurring

The rail connections between Gembloux and Namur and Pepinster and Welkenraedt are open again as of the morning of 26 July. The line restoration and reopening go according to Infrabel’s plan despite the continuously occurring problems due to insisting rainfall. For instance, traffic between Dinant and Namur, even though not affected by the first flood wave, has stopped until 9 August. The closure is due to a damaged railway crossing from heavy rain on Saturday evening (24 July).

Simultaneously, as an Infrabel spokesperson told Belga news agency, the section between Wavre and Sint-Joris-Weert will open a week later than expected due to the heavy rainfall during the weekend. Cleaning and repair processes continue on other lines like these between Gembloux-Auvelais, Liege-Bomal and Liege-Trois Ponts, estimated to open on 2 August, and Gembloux-Ottignies, which will open on 9 August.

Liege-Maastricht line opened earlier than expected

The Liege-Maastricht line opened on Thursday 22 July, eleven days earlier than expected. The international route was supposed to open on 2 August. However, the works on the section between Visen and the Dutch border that suffered the most damage went faster than planned.

Infrabel mentioned that a consistent response to the natural disaster would not be feasible without the contribution of hundreds of workers who work restlessly to restore Belgium’s southern railway network section.

30 to 50 million damage

As reported earlier, 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 mentioned last Tuesday, the infrastructure manager still had to wait and see before making a comprehensive assessment of the situation.

With problems still occurring and autumn rainfalls being just around the corner, Infrabel is urged to develop something more than a simple damage assessment. The infrastructure manager should come up with a contingency plan and all the needed measures to avoid more damage in the near future.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Editor at RailFreight.com

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