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Mayors want to remove Brussels' last remaining level crossings
Two Brussels mayors are urgently looking for alternatives to the last two "deadly" railway crossings in the Belgian capital.
Both level crossings were supposed to have disappeared years ago, Bruzz reports, and yet they remain.
Last year a pedestrian died after being struck by a train in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and last week a teenager met the same fate just a few hundred metres away.
The mayors of Ganshoren and Berchem-Sainte-Agathe are therefore rekindling the discussion and pleading once again for a tunnel as an alternative at both sites.
“We have been talking about this for 10 years, enough is enough,” said Berchem-Saint-Agathe mayor Christian Lamouline.
According to the mayor's information, the boy who died last week was going to play sports on the other side of the railway line and was reportedly listening to music, which prevented him from hearing the train approaching.
In 2022, a pedestrian tried to quickly pass the closed level crossing but misjudged the speed of the oncoming train and was hit by it.
The level crossing in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and one on Rue Vanderveken in Ganshoren just a few hundred metres away are the last level crossings in the Brussels region, all the others having been replaced by tunnels or bridges.
Six accidents have occurred at these last two level crossings since 2000.
Railway manager Infrabel's ambition is to replace all level crossings in Belgium using a bridge, tunnel or a parallel road or cycle path next to the tracks.
The aim was to have all of the crossings in Brussels replaced by 2023 and Infrabel is nearly there, with four of the last six crossings closed in the last four years.
Lamouline (Les Engagés) said he recently saw two people in the span of just an hour cross when the gate was down, avoiding an oncoming train.
“The red lights are sometimes on for a very long time,” Lamouline said.
“Between the time the train arrives at the station to the time the train has passed the level crossing, there are sometimes five to 10 minutes.”
Lamouline said this made some people overconfident, thinking they can slip past before the train comes.
Removing a crossing takes coordination with local authorities and some crossings are harder to replace than others.
The last two remaining level crossings in Rue Nestor Martin and Rue Vanderveken are slightly more complicated: a bridge was not an option and a tunnel was needed. Infrabel submitted a permit application, but some said the tunnel was not large enough and that no trucks would be able to pass through.
Construction of the new tunnel was also said to have had too great an impact on the surrounding area and a new application has not been not submitted for the time being, Infrabel said.
The mayors of Ganshoren and Sint-Agatha-Berchem want to reopen the dossier as soon as possible.
“There are deaths occurring, Infrabel has to invest,” mayor Lamouline added.