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End in sight for Schuman station works

11:50 04/09/2015

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak: Works on the Schuman metro and railway station in Brussels, as well as the new Schuman-Josaphat tunnel under the European quarter are due to be complete in December, after nearly eight years of chaos for transport users, traffic and local residents.

The new tunnel will open on 13 December, linking the Schuman station and the Halle-Vilvoorde line 26. That gives Schuman a direct link to Brussels Airport, as well as to Antwerp, Leuven, Liège and Mechelen.

The region and the federal government hope the new links – only 13 minutes by train to the airport – will convince more people to use public transport to travel to and from the European quarter, as well as taking some of the strain off of the North-South link in central Brussels.

The challenges of the project were enormous. The Rue de la Loi tunnel for cars had to be raised to make way for the 1.25km-long Schuman-Josaphat rail tunnel, which also burrowed under EU buildings and homes in the area.

“The works faced various challenges, such as digging a tunnel under the listed Art Deco Residence Palace, as well as the placing of 160-tonne pillars to support the new tunnel above the metro lines,” said Delphine Cauchie, project manager for Beliris, which oversaw the project.

More than 80,000 cubic metres of concrete was used to build the tunnel, Beliris said, and the earth moved by trucks using the E40 tunnel was enough to fill 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The station now sports new platforms, concessions, natural light, 21 escalators and 18 lifts. Above ground, however, the traffic remains: a plan to turn Place Schuman into a car-free plaza was dropped.

The total cost of the works was €365 million, with an additional €266 million spent on doubling the railway tracks between Schuman and Watermaal station. The rail infrastructure authority Infrabel paid the lion’s share – more than half a billion euros – with the SNCB, Beliris and public transport authority STIB also contributing.


Photo: The new Schuman Station, to be ready by December, believe it or not


Written by Alan Hope