12 years, 133 million euros: Zeebrugge presents its new harbour lines

Image: Port of Zeebrugge
Port of Zeebrugge Port of Zeebrugge

A new, modernised shunting yard was officially put into use in the port of Zeebrugge this week. It is the end of a project that lasted no less than twelve years and cost 133 million euros. In total, more than eighteen kilometers of new track has been laid. According to the Belgian infrastructure manager Infrabel, this is “the largest rail job ever” in the port.

The new shunting yard of the port of Zeebrugge consists of two large track bundles: the departure and arrival bundle Zwankendamme and the shunting bundle Zeebrugge. Zwankendamme’s infrastructure has already been modernised and was completed at the end of 2018. Now the finishing touches have also been made to the Zeebrugge shunting bundle.

18 tracks

There are 18 tracks in total. The Zeebrugge marshalling yard has eight tracks, four of which have overhead wires. Three tracks in the bundle are long tracks, where trains of up to 750 meters can be received.

The Zwankendamme bundle has ten electrified tracks, four of which are long tracks. In addition to these tracks, there is a separate bundle of 4 tracks where Infrabel customers can temporarily park their locomotives. In the past, locomotives were parked in the shunting yard, which resulted in a loss of capacity.

More capacity

The new infrastructure also has an automatic hill installation and automatically operated switches. Such a system speeds up the shunting and composition of freight trains.

Both track bundles are now located behind each other, while they used to be on the other side of the main Bruges-Zeebrugge track. Now that trains have to cross this line much less often, more capacity will become available and freight trains will have to make fewer shunting movements.

133 million euros

A total of 133 million euros has been invested in the shunting yard. The vast majority of the works were pre-financed by the Flemish government. The total investment also includes 2.1 million euros in subsidies from the European Union. This amount was used to replace the Wulfsberge level crossing with a bridge and to construct four long tracks.

This article previously appeared on Railtech.be. Would you like to know more about the rail infrastructure from, to and in the Belgian ports? Then register for RailTech Belgium, where this topic is one of the main themes. Click here for more information.

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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