Liefkenshoek rail link
Every year 190 million tonnes of freight pass through the Port of Antwerp. It is also the largest port in Belgium and the second largest in Europe. Thanks to its location, it also provides the fastest, most economical and sustainable access to the rest of Europe. Up to now, all trains to European destinations ran along a single rail line. The Liefkenshoek rail link has been created to speed up traffic.
Liefkenshoek rail link: crucial rail link between the left and right banks of the Port of Antwerp
The Liefkenshoek rail link plays a major role, acting as a logistical gateway for all shippers transporting their goods from the Port of Antwerp to the rest of Europe. The Liefkenshoek tunnel is the link ensuring the smooth flow of freight trains between the left and right banks of the Port of Antwerp.
On the right bank, the rail link connects to the Antwerp-North marshalling yard, an important chain for rail freight moving daily from, through and to the Port of Antwerp. This way, there is more capacity for loading and unloading containers on the left bank (Waaslandhaven).
This investment fits in with our strategy of supporting further growth in the Port of Antwerp. We are striving to transport 15% of container traffic by rail into the Port of Antwerp by 2030.
An original funding method
The Liefkenshoek rail link was built through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). A private investor (Locorail SA/NV) financed the project to the tune of EUR 690 million, taking charge of the design and construction of the new infrastructure. Infrabel pays an annual fee for the use of the rail link. After 38 years, Infrabel will acquire full ownership of the infrastructure. Infrabel invested 183 million current euros in track and signalling installations. The Flemish Region contributed EUR 107 million to the project to reduce the financial burden on the PPP.
A technical feat
The Liefkenshoek rail link is a dual-track stretch running for 16.2 kilometres, with more than half the route underground. Infrabel renewed the infrastructure from the South Yard to the existing Beveren Tunnel, a distance of 6.7 kilometres. This was fully renewed and adapted. The route then runs along an open cutting up to the Liefkenshoek rail tunnel itself. Finally it reaches Antwerp-North marshalling yard via the existing tunnel under the R2.
The two tunnel shafts are 6 kilometres long and go down to a depth of 40 metres under the Scheldt and 30 metres under the B1 and B2 canal docks.
1/3 Track bed South Yard - Beveren rail tunnel
3/4 Renovation and modification of the existing Beveren rail tunnel
4/5 Departure shaft between the Beveren rail tunnel and the tunnel shafts
5/6 Two single-track tunnel shafts under the Scheldt
6/7 Closed tunnel and open cutting
7> Modification of the existing rail tunnel under the R2
Liefkenshoek rail link equipped with ETCS
The rail line is equipped with the European Train Control System (ETCS). This provides permanent speed control for trains along the entire track. For instance, it activates automatic train braking for trains exceeding the maximum permitted speed. By the end of 2022, the entire Belgian network will be equipped with this system, making it one of the three safest networks in Europe.
The Liefkenshoek rail tunnel is made of concrete with a high fire resistance. It also has evacuation shafts and cross passagesevery 600 metres, as well as a variety of safety systems. These include a unique automatic foam extinguishing system and asmoke and heat extraction system, controlled and monitored 24/7 by the control centre in Antwerp-Central station.