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A double carriageway between Pétange and Luxembourg

Posted: 29 January 2008 | | No comments yet

In 2002, the Luxembourg Ministry of Transport collaborated with CFL to work out a public transport strategy called ‘mobilitéit.lu’. The document, or plan, included details about development projects of public transport infrastructure and included in particular plans to develop the existing railway line between Pétange and Luxembourg into a dual carriageway.

In 2002, the Luxembourg Ministry of Transport collaborated with CFL to work out a public transport strategy called ‘mobilitéit.lu’. The document, or plan, included details about development projects of public transport infrastructure and included in particular plans to develop the existing railway line between Pétange and Luxembourg into a dual carriageway.

In 2002, the Luxembourg Ministry of Transport collaborated with CFL to work out a public transport strategy called ‘mobilitéit.lu’. The document, or plan, included details about development projects of public transport infrastructure and included in particular plans to develop the existing railway line between Pétange and Luxembourg into a dual carriageway.

The 18km long single-lane railway line only has a passing track at Dippach-Reckange – the only place for two trains, one coming from Luxembourg, the other one from Pétange, to pass one another. This situation seriously hinders the fixed-interval timetable on this line, which is already at the top limit of its capacity.

One of the main national political targets is to achieve a ratio of 25% for public transportation, and because of this it has been decided to increase the capacity of the line. To achieve this, the easiest way would be to lay a second track.

The major ground-work, which commenced in 2005, is almost the same as building a completely new line. This is due mainly to the complex topographical situation of several of the projects track sections. Another major source of problems and planning difficulties is of course to continue train operations throughout the duration track works.

This project includes four track sections, the first in between Pétange train station and Bascharage-Sanem; then from the stop in Bascharage-Sanem to Dippach-Reckange station. The third is from Dippach-Reckange to Leudelange-Gare and the fourth section stretches from Leudelange-Gare to Luxembourg-Hollerich.

If everything goes according to plan, such as we expect it to, the dual-carriageway will be finished between Pétange and Dippach-Gare by the end of 2009 and completely finished by the end of 2012.

Throughout this project, it is foreseen that the following aspects will be conducted:

  • Building a bed for the new second lane. This will need some 27,000,000 cubic feet of earth-moving
  • Laying of 18km of track, which amounts to 30,000 concrete sleepers of 250kg each and 136,000 tonnes of ballast
  • Installing 45 point-switches
  • Planting 400 catenary supports
  • Reconstruction and adapting or widening 44 bridges, three of which are big structures that pass over the major motorways in the south of the country
  • Complete reconstruction of the stops Bascharage, Dippach and Leudelange and at the same time adapting them to the norms of accessibility for disabled people. Thus every renewed train station will be equipped with an underpass accessible by stairs, ramps and elevators
  • Replacing all four level-crossings of the railway line and to replace them by structures allowing to underpass the rails
  • Taking serious measures, to rejuvenate the rivers of Chiers and Mess plus the replanting of forests

The total cost of this modernisation is estimated at €295 million. The project is sponsored by the European Union.
The work currently progresses as planned, even though some unforeseen discoveries have been made recently. For instance, an old tar-pit has been unearthed at Bascharage-Sanem train station. I would like to point out that CFL will, when confronted with a scenario such as this, de-pollute the entire site as laws and regulations expect us to. In this case, surplus costs have been evaluated at €4.5 million.

So far:

  • Laying of the second track is complete on the first section and has been open for traffic since May 2007. On the same section, stabilisation of the embankment slopes, draining of the underground next to the existing line and installation of anti-noise-pollution walls are all being undertaken.
  • In section 2, between Bascharage and Schouweiler, the second lane is at the time of writing of this article only a few weeks from completion. It should be open to traffic by mid-December 2007. The different phases of the project, such as improving the stability of the underground in the vicinity of Bettange-sur-Mess, finishing of the bed and laying the track itself between Bascharage-Sanem and Schouweiler, planting catenary posts and installing the catenary itself, stabilisation of the slopes of the embankment, draining of the underground, construction of new underpasses in Schouweiler and Bascharage-Sanem, building a new platform in Bascharage and installing ecological parking spaces at Bascharage train station, are for their greater part finished or only waiting for a few finishing touches.
  • Work has begun, in collaboration with the administration of road-works in Luxembourg, on replacing the level-crossings in Bascharage and Leudelange, with road-tunnels.

Reconstruction of the three bridges at the entrance to Dippach-Reckange train-station as well as renovation of the platforms and the waiting room for our customers is scheduled for early 2008. In section 3, civil engineering work will also start in Spring 2008. A new bow-string bridge is required for the crossing of the loop-road around Luxembourg-City and the railway line; here the preparations will start at the end of 2008.

Of course we try to organise all works in such a way as to impede our clients as little as possible. Thus, security or organisational work requires the closing off of the existing lane, and to be executed during the night or throughout a weekend.

On the safety side, on-site personnel are confronted with 25,000 Volts in the catenaries over the existing lane which could cause a danger since trains pass the works at speeds close to 140km/h on this lane. To be able to work in the best safety conditions possible, each and everyone present at any time on the building site has to pass a series of safety-trainings organised by CFL.

As the railway line (Longwy)-Pétange-Luxembourg is a major artery into and through our country, CFL and our customers will find that both quality and quantity of service will hugely profit from the whole project. We expect our capacity on this line alone to increase by as much as 30%. Further increases can be expected because there will no longer be the need for train crossings, another generator of delays will have successfully been removed from our railway network, making our timetables even more reliable than they already are. By the time the Pétange-Luxembourg line will be double lane, transformation of our central station in Luxembourg will also be finished and the next project will already be in the works – building a completely new railway line from Luxembourg Central Station to Luxembourg Airport. Quite a project, considering we need the line to run through almost all of Luxembourg-City, an area which is almost devoid of vacant plots.

About the author

Alex Kremer

Mr. Alex Kremer studied at the Université de Liège and the TH Aachen. Following practical training with DB, he joined CFL where his career took him through the departments of infrastructure and human resources which he headed for a number of years before being promoted to Directeur Général (CEO) of CFL in 2001

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