Brussels light rail network delayed
The Brussels regional in Belgium express rail network (GEN) will not be completed until 2025, more than a decade after it was due to be ready, according to reports last week from inside the rail authority NMBS, where it forms part of the longterm investment plan currently being discussed.
The planned network consists of nine lines into and through Brussels, from Zottegem in the west to Leuven in the east, and from Dendermonde and Mechelen to Nivelles and Villers-la-Ville in Wallonia, providing faster, more frequent rail connections using lightweight trains (pictured). Work started in 2006 and the network was due to be completed by last year, but it has been plagued by delays, including legal challenges. A test project with five lines ended in December.
One of the main problems will be the North-South rail axis in Brussels, through which the GEN will pass. That 3.8km connection, most of it a tunnel, dates back to 1952, and now carries 1,200 trains a day, or 96 an hour at peak times. That number is expected to grow to 137 by 2030, but the tunnel is at saturation point. Brussels region mobility minister Brigitte Grouwels said she was “disappointed” by the latest delay.