Belgian network almost fully electrified with new link to the Netherlands
A new electrified rail freight line between Genk in Belgium and Bilzen in the south of the Netherlands was opened yesterday, 28 March. The new line came with an investment of 20 million euros, part of which resulted from the European RRF (Recovery and Resilience Facility) fund, which is intended to absorb the negative impact of the corona pandemic.
Work between the Genk freight yard and the Rooierweg branch in Bilzen started in May last year. The project was combined with work on the Flemish Waterway for a new railway bridge over the Albert Canal.
According to Infrabel, the rail project will benefit freight traffic between Antwerp and Germany, which is positive for the ports and the Belgian economy. The freight trains from Genk can travel faster to Germany via the new connection. Previously, freight traffic ran through Hasselt.
Electrification of Belgian network
In total, 300 catenary poles and 84 kilometers of wires and cables for the catenary have been installed on the 12.5-kilometre-long railway line between Genk and Bilzen. Infrabel points out that with the commissioning of the new railway line, 90 per cent of the Belgian main track (about 5,900 kilometers) has been electrified.
In the period 2022-2024, Infrabel will invest 2.5 billion from the regular budget in the safety, punctuality and capacity of the rail network. On top of this amount, two additional support measures will be released for the period 2022-2024: one of 135 million euros via the European RRF funds and one of 222 million euros via the Belgian recovery plan (for 2022-2024).
The European funds are mainly used for the necessary further modernisation of the rail network. In the Belgian recovery plan, 180 of the 222 million euros is intended to support rail freight transport and the remaining balance will go to the works on the Axis 3.
This article was originally published on our sister publication Spoorpro.nl.