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Flemish tram system to get €295 million make-over
The tram system in Flanders will experience a major renovation between 2019 and 2023, the government has announced, at a cost of €295 million. This responds to concerns from tram operator De Lijn that the system is becoming less reliable, which affects passenger satisfaction, operating costs and the general image of public transport.
“A major catch-up operation is now underway, just as the city authorities involved have rightly requested,” said mobility minister Ben Weyts, announcing the investment. “The three tram networks have been assessed by two outside companies specialising in this area. Based on that work, we have now allocated the necessary funds.”
The longest tram system in Flanders runs for 143 kilometres along the coast, from De Panne to Knokke. Work planned for this line will include a major renovation of the 11km stretch between Ostend and Middelkerke, where the gravel bed is being covered in sand. This stretch will also benefit from a concrete pavement.
Investment in Antwerp’s 126km tram system will address overhead lines and the transformer stations. This will allow the network to cope with the increasing number of trams using it, and a desire to run longer trams more frequently.
Renovations in Ghent, which has 62km of tramlines, will include work on a 4km stretch on Poperingestraat, where there are still wooden sleepers and switches dating from 1981.
The funds announced for the renovation programme come on top of investment already set aside by this administration for new vehicles. This includes 110 new trams and 14 tram-buses, the first in Flanders. “De Lijn will become more reliable, more comfortable and more attractive,” Weyts concluded.