Belgium: New rail link to Brussels Airport shows impact of EU TEN-T financing of €15 million
On 10th June, in Brussels, the new rail link to Brussels Airport, called the Diabolo connection, became fully operational carrying fare paying passengers for the first time. This followed a formal opening on 7th June, when King Albert II drove the first train over the new line, and the public Open Day held the previous day. The project, which to date has cost almost €9.7 million, was funded through trans-European transport network (TEN-T) co-financing. "Under construction for the past five years, the €678m Diabolo project creates a through route under Brussels National Airport, connected to the rest of the network by triangular junctions at each end to give maximum operating flexibility. It includes 22·4 km of new line, built in two sections which have been promoted, funded and built in different ways, one by the public sector and the other through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) concession. Designed and built by SNCB's project engineering subsidiary TUC Rail, the 17·6 km Line 25N between Schaarbeek and Mechelen provides a second pair of tracks to augment the existing Line 25 from Brussels to Antwerpen. Costing €388m, this section has largely been funded by Infrabel, with a €15m EU contribution under the TEN-T programme." (Railway Gazette International)
On 6th June, in advance of the inauguration, Siim Kallas, Vice-president and Commissioner responsible for transport, said, "I am delighted that this important project is becoming operational. It proves that the EU financial support to transport infrastructure generates further investment and employment and gives substantial benefits to citizens. With this new link we have created a more efficient intermodal hub at Brussels Airport.” (IP/12/568) The new rail link, which connects Brussels Airport with the Brussels–Antwerp–Amsterdam rail network and the Paris–Brussels–Köln–Amsterdam–London high-speed rail network (also known as TEN-T Priority Project 2), will enable high-speed trains to stop at the airport on their way to Brussels or Antwerp thus giving passengers more flexibility in their travel choices and improving connections between rail and air transport. Previously the airport was only accessible via a rail terminus that was served by local and regional trains, or by a very busy road, so the new link will help reduce the isolation of the airport by improving accessibility and reducing congestion.
The European Commission, and the TEN-T Executive Agency, which have been involved with the project since the beginning, view the new link as a key step in the advancement of European high speed railways and European mobility as a whole. Regarding the PPP, "the 4•8 km northern connection into the airport has been funded and built by Northern Diabolo NV under a €290m Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal with Nordbank AG and International Public Partnership GP Ltd, who will recoup their investment over the next 35 years through a mix of availability payments and passenger supplements. The number of passengers using the airport station each year is expected to increase from around 4 million in 2010 to 10 million by 2030." (Railway Gazette International)
Last Updated (Wednesday, 04 July 2012 09:17)