Mechelen rail bypass: spectacular hoisting for the new rail bridge - 07/03/2017
Saturday 3 March, in the morning, Infrabel installed the largest element of the new metal bridge spanning the Leuven Canal at Mechelen. This is the last bridge to be built as part of the rail bypass. This technical prowess was preceded by numerous preparations, and was only possible thanks to two huge mobile cranes.
Alongside the two Vierendeel bridges spanning the Leuven Canal, Infrabel constructed the final bridge in the rail bypass at Mechelen. The pre-fabricated metallic bridge of 77.5 m in length, 15 m wide and 3.5 m high is made of different elements: the abutments were constructed in place over the last few months and work commenced to assemble the first sections.
In the last few days, our teams were ready to start the spectacular set up of the metallic bridge. It was veritable prowess since such a technical intervention requires a great deal of preparatory work. First of all, the contractor set up two large mobile cranes (of 500 and 700 tonnes respectively) along the canal, then, the two largest elements of the bridge (39.3 m and 170 tonnes each) arrived via the water on a pontoon up to the building site. On Saturday morning, the two giant cranes then lifted and mounted the first section of the bridge.
The deck of the bridge will be installed next weekend (Friday 10 to Saturday 11 March). Then, the different elements can be welded to each other. In the next phase, pre-fabricated plates will be placed on the truss structure, after which a layer of concrete will be poured.
A bypass for increased capacity and improved flow
The rail bridge spanning the Leuven canal is the last of six bridges for the rail bypass that Infrabel is constructing between now and 2019. The project includes the construction of two new additional tracks and two new platforms behind Mechelen station. The rail bypass will be connected to the Schaerbeek-Mechelen line (on the central embankment of motorway E19) and the Diabolo rail connection, both in service since June 2012.
Thanks to the bypass, trains will be able to pass through Mechelen railway station more quickly (160 km/h instead of 100 km/h). Infrabel are also aiming to increase capacity and improve the flow of rail traffic on the strategic connection between Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp-Netherlands. The rail bypass will therefore form the cornerstone of the Belgian high speed network.