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€8.4 million for new pre-metro tunnel in Antwerp
Flanders’ mobility minister, Ben Weyts, has approved funding of €8.4 million for a new tunnel in Antwerp to be used by the pre-metro, or underground tram. The tunnel will cut the journey time from Wijnegem to the city centre from 25 to 15 minutes, the government said.
Since April this year, trams have been routed through the tunnel known as the Reuzenpijp (pictured), a twin-bore tunnel originally planned for the pre-metro use but unused for 30 years until it was fitted with the necessary infrastructure, at a cost of €100 million.
The new funding goes to a 400-metre branch tunnel that passes under Turnhoutsebaan, between pre-metro stations Zegel and the Singel crossroads. “This will give Wijnegem and the Deurne district a direct connection with Antwerp’s pre-metro network,” Weyts explained. “This kind of investment pays off: the first figures on the tram lines in the Reuzenpijp are extremely positive as far as both traffic and passenger satisfaction are concerned. Passengers make their choices based on comfort and speed, and that’s what we want to offer them more of.”
Antwerp city council welcomed the news. “This is exactly what our policy agreement calls for: helping motorists to opt for rapid alternatives,” commented mobility alderman Koen Kennis. And he pointed out that the tram’s passage into the tunnel means it will bypass three accident black spots on the route: the Stenenbrug, the on and off ramps of the E313 and the Noordersingel-Turnhoutsebaan junction.
Photo courtesy Smiley.tourist/Wikimedia