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Luxembourg: Heading in the right direction

Posted: 20 February 2013 | | No comments yet

A few years ago, CFL commenced an ambitious programme of rebuilding its national railway network to meet today’s standards. By the end of 2012 we had completed two of the most important projects in this context: Modernising the Luxembourg Central Station and rebuilding the existing single-line track between Luxembourg and Pétange into double-track.

Upgrading the Luxembourg-Pétange line

While the 18.1km-long Luxembourg-Pétange project seems very straightforward on paper, it was quite a challenge in reality. Due to the limited size of our country, which is only 54km-wide and 82km-long, Luxembourg has a very peculiar, star-shaped railway network with Luxembourg Central Station being in the middle. This makes modernisation of the network very difficult, as you generally cannot shut down a line and transport passengers over existing alternatives.

While the Luxembourg-Pétange line could theoretically be bypassed via Esch/Alzette, this would be a poor choice for any potential customer, as travel would take almost an hour instead of 25 minutes. Of course for most Europeans this doesn’t sound like much, but again due to our country’s limited size, this was unacceptable in Luxembourg.

Instead, CFL chose to modernise with as little interference as possible with regular train traffic. Obviously, throughout the renovations, the line had to be closed-off during a few weekends and our customers had to travel by bus or car.

Starting out as a simple case of laying a second track next to the existing one, our engineers quickly realised that rebuilding the whole existing infrastructure would be cheaper than the original project in the long-run. At the same time, any future works on this line would be safer, as the distance in-between the tracks has been widened to a comfortable 4.60m.

As with every infrastructure modernisation, we try to eliminate as many level crossings as possible, as these are the prime cause for delays through technical faults and accidents on our network. In this case, all but one of these crossings could be closed completely and replaced by an underpass. The only remaining level crossing will stay in service for just another year or two, depending on when ‘Ponts & Chaussées’, Luxembourg’s road management administration, will be able to finally acquire the land needed for the new road connecting the already built underpass to the existing roads.

At the same time, all the stations along the Luxembourg-Pétange line have been completely rebuilt to the international accessibility standard. Each platform in every station can be accessed by people with reduced mobility without requiring assistance. This has been achieved by installing elevators or escalators at the various stations. Guiding lines for visually impaired people are laid from the platforms to the bus and taxi stations and to the parking spaces.

New ecological car and bicycle parking; i.e. the land has not been sealed, but covered only where absolutely needed with permeable materials, such as lattice stones and loose chippings, have been built in every station, making Luxembourg’s public transport system ever more accessible. On the topic of ecology, a few compensation measures were required for the project to be acceptable. Thus, a small herd of Angus cows are now grazing on CFL-owned land that was acquired for this reason only.

On 7 December 2012, when the new line could officially be re-opened in total by our Transport Minister, Claude Wiseler, CFL could announce that through the modern – ised line, rail services could be vastly improved. The number of trains running on this line grew from 49 to 99 trains per day on average. Service is now running throughout the day every half hour in each direction and every 15 minutes during rush hour. A local advertisement campaign has already shown promising effects.

A few years ago, CFL commenced an ambitious programme of rebuilding its national railway network to meet today’s standards. By the end of 2012 we had completed two of the most important projects in this context: Modernising the Luxembourg Central Station and rebuilding the existing single-line track between Luxembourg and Pétange into double-track. Upgrading the Luxembourg-Pétange line While the 18.1km-long Luxembourg-Pétange project seems very straightforward on paper, it was quite a challenge in reality. Due to the limited size of our country, which is only 54km-wide and 82km-long, Luxembourg has a very peculiar, star-shaped railway network with Luxembourg Central Station being in the middle. This makes modernisation of the network very difficult, as you generally cannot shut down a line and transport passengers over existing alternatives. While the Luxembourg-Pétange line could theoretically be bypassed via Esch/Alzette, this would be a poor choice for any potential customer, as travel would take almost an hour instead of 25 minutes. Of course for most Europeans this doesn’t sound like much, but again due to our country’s limited size, this was unacceptable in Luxembourg. Instead, CFL chose to modernise with as little interference as possible with regular train traffic. Obviously, throughout the renovations, the line had to be closed-off during a few weekends and our customers had to travel by bus or car. Starting out as a simple case of laying a second track next to the existing one, our engineers quickly realised that rebuilding the whole existing infrastructure would be cheaper than the original project in the long-run. At the same time, any future works on this line would be safer, as the distance in-between the tracks has been widened to a comfortable 4.60m. As with every infrastructure modernisation, we try to eliminate as many level crossings as possible, as these are the prime cause for delays through technical faults and accidents on our network. In this case, all but one of these crossings could be closed completely and replaced by an underpass. The only remaining level crossing will stay in service for just another year or two, depending on when ‘Ponts & Chaussées’, Luxembourg’s road management administration, will be able to finally acquire the land needed for the new road connecting the already built underpass to the existing roads. At the same time, all the stations along the Luxembourg-Pétange line have been completely rebuilt to the international accessibility standard. Each platform in every station can be accessed by people with reduced mobility without requiring assistance. This has been achieved by installing elevators or escalators at the various stations. Guiding lines for visually impaired people are laid from the platforms to the bus and taxi stations and to the parking spaces. New ecological car and bicycle parking; i.e. the land has not been sealed, but covered only where absolutely needed with permeable materials, such as lattice stones and loose chippings, have been built in every station, making Luxembourg’s public transport system ever more accessible. On the topic of ecology, a few compensation measures were required for the project to be acceptable. Thus, a small herd of Angus cows are now grazing on CFL-owned land that was acquired for this reason only. On 7 December 2012, when the new line could officially be re-opened in total by our Transport Minister, Claude Wiseler, CFL could announce that through the modern - ised line, rail services could be vastly improved. The number of trains running on this line grew from 49 to 99 trains per day on average. Service is now running throughout the day every half hour in each direction and every 15 minutes during rush hour. A local advertisement campaign has already shown promising effects.

A few years ago, CFL commenced an ambitious programme of rebuilding its national railway network to meet today’s standards. By the end of 2012 we had completed two of the most important projects in this context: Modernising the Luxembourg Central Station and rebuilding the existing single-line track between Luxembourg and Pétange into double-track.

Upgrading the Luxembourg-Pétange line

While the 18.1km-long Luxembourg-Pétange project seems very straightforward on paper, it was quite a challenge in reality. Due to the limited size of our country, which is only 54km-wide and 82km-long, Luxembourg has a very peculiar, star-shaped railway network with Luxembourg Central Station being in the middle. This makes modernisation of the network very difficult, as you generally cannot shut down a line and transport passengers over existing alternatives.

While the Luxembourg-Pétange line could theoretically be bypassed via Esch/Alzette, this would be a poor choice for any potential customer, as travel would take almost an hour instead of 25 minutes. Of course for most Europeans this doesn’t sound like much, but again due to our country’s limited size, this was unacceptable in Luxembourg.

Instead, CFL chose to modernise with as little interference as possible with regular train traffic. Obviously, throughout the renovations, the line had to be closed-off during a few weekends and our customers had to travel by bus or car.

Starting out as a simple case of laying a second track next to the existing one, our engineers quickly realised that rebuilding the whole existing infrastructure would be cheaper than the original project in the long-run. At the same time, any future works on this line would be safer, as the distance in-between the tracks has been widened to a comfortable 4.60m.

As with every infrastructure modernisation, we try to eliminate as many level crossings as possible, as these are the prime cause for delays through technical faults and accidents on our network. In this case, all but one of these crossings could be closed completely and replaced by an underpass. The only remaining level crossing will stay in service for just another year or two, depending on when ‘Ponts & Chaussées’, Luxembourg’s road management administration, will be able to finally acquire the land needed for the new road connecting the already built underpass to the existing roads.

At the same time, all the stations along the Luxembourg-Pétange line have been completely rebuilt to the international accessibility standard. Each platform in every station can be accessed by people with reduced mobility without requiring assistance. This has been achieved by installing elevators or escalators at the various stations. Guiding lines for visually impaired people are laid from the platforms to the bus and taxi stations and to the parking spaces.

New ecological car and bicycle parking; i.e. the land has not been sealed, but covered only where absolutely needed with permeable materials, such as lattice stones and loose chippings, have been built in every station, making Luxembourg’s public transport system ever more accessible. On the topic of ecology, a few compensation measures were required for the project to be acceptable. Thus, a small herd of Angus cows are now grazing on CFL-owned land that was acquired for this reason only.

On 7 December 2012, when the new line could officially be re-opened in total by our Transport Minister, Claude Wiseler, CFL could announce that through the modern – ised line, rail services could be vastly improved. The number of trains running on this line grew from 49 to 99 trains per day on average. Service is now running throughout the day every half hour in each direction and every 15 minutes during rush hour. A local advertisement campaign has already shown promising effects.

Modernising Luxembourg Central Station

Situated in a historical building that was declared a national monument approximately 20 years ago, the modernisation of Luxembourg Central Station was a rather more delicate matter.

When CFL started to renew their rolling stock at the turn of the millennium, double-deck trains were the material of choice. This meant, all of a sudden, many more passengers per train, which in turn caused the exits of our biggest railway station to be clogged when two trains arrived at the same time. In 2005 work started on the much needed improvement of passenger flows through Luxembourg Central Station, while at the same time every area of the station itself had to be accessible for everyone at any given moment.

An additional underpass, as well as an overpass with access to every platform, was built, bringing immediate relief to the ‘traffic jams’ in and around the station. Escalators and elevators were installed everywhere so that the station itself is now freely accessible for people with reduced mobility – a huge advantage for even someone bringing their bicycle or their baby stroller on the train.

Dark and unused rooms were eliminated as far as the national historic buildings society allowed, and a modern and almost futuristic sales area was established in the main building.

The area around the train station has been rearranged in a way that leaves more space for our customers. Bus stops were reorganised more logically and a completely new parking structure with 700 places has been built and connected to the station by a covered walkway. No matter how bad the weather, train users can walk from their cars and buses to the trains while never getting wet.

The last element to be finished was a modern steel and glass structure in front of the building which has added approximately 2,500 additional square meters to the inside of the train station. This element transports the historic building into this millennium by its looks alone.

The official inauguration of this space took place on 21 September 2012 which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the building itself, and the ceremony was graced by the presence of Luxembourg’s Grand-Duke Henri and Grand- Duchess Maria Teresa.

To mark the occasion of the finished renovations and the centennial, CFL issued a book about the history and importance of Luxembourg Central Station – which was soldout after just five weeks – showing how important this landmark is considered to be.

As CEO of CFL, I can only be satisfied by the public acceptance of both these important projects that show where public transport is headed in Luxembourg – in the right direction.

Biography

Alex Kremer studied at the Université de Liège and the TH Aachen. Following placement of practical training with DB, Alex joined CFL where he was Head of the Infrastructure and Human Resources Departments for a number of years before being promoted to CEO of CFL in 2001.

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