Modernisation of the Axis 3 Brussels-Luxembourg line

For a number of years, Axis 3 has been undergoing significant modernisation work on its railway infrastructure. These works will enable an increase in the speed of trains and consequently decrease the journey time between Brussels and Luxembourg.

A comprehensive modernisation programme

Encompassing lines 161 (Brussels-Namur) and 162 (Namur-border) and with a total length of 226 kilometres, Axis 3 connects Brussels with the border of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is a winding route with more than 150 curves on the Belgian territory alone. This explains why this international line has a relatively low permitted line speed (130km/h) and a significant number of reduced speed sections along this route.

Under the initiative of Belgian and Luxembourg governments, Infrabel started,  in 2007, large-scale modernisation work on the railway infrastructure of this section of the line.

This large-scale modernisation project aims to overcome the current restrictions on the line up to the Luxembourg border and consequently enable the reference speed to be increased to 160km/h on the sections allowing a train to accelerate and decelerate. This increased speed will reduce journey times by between 11 and 20 minutes depending on the type of train used.

The expected improvement to railway performance on the Brussels-Luxembourg line should help to increase the competitiveness and cost-effectiveness of rail travel, and reduce road traffic on the large motorways leading to and from Luxembourg.

Modernisation work planned

This project involves many significant sub-projects for modernising railway infrastructure and expanding its capacity.

The modernisation of Axis 3 involves the following activities:

  • Improvement of the rail route by eliminating the tightest curves
  • Modernisation of through-stations: three stations will be completely transformed (Jemelle, Gembloux, Ciney)
  • Standardisation of the distance between track centres at 2.25m to allow a permitted line speed of 160km/h
  • Replacement of civil engineering structures
  • Renovation of the track base, including rocky walls and large areas of excavated materials
  • Re-electrification of the line and implementation of a 25kV power supply
  • Modernisation of signalling, moving to PLP technology

Completed projects

  • The sections of the Arlon-Luxembourg border and Hatrival-Lavaux lines have been entirely modernised and electrified.
  • Civil engineering work has been completed on 10 curves
  • 48 out of 50 civil engineering structures have been renovated and 19 level crossings have been removed on lines 161 and 162
  • The stations at Jemelle and Gembloux have been fully modernised
  • Work is underway on the sections between Namur and Ciney and Habay and Arlon

Construction sites