Alex Kremer - Articles and news items
The infrastructure managers and capacity allocation bodies put Rail Freight Corridor 2 on the tracks
Rail industry news / 21 March 2013 /
Rail Freight Corridor 2: a European rail transport route…
Issue 1 2013 / 20 February 2013 /
A few years ago, CFL commenced an ambitious programme of rebuilding its national railway network to meet today’s standards. By the end of 2012 we had completed two of the most important projects in this context: Modernising the Luxembourg Central Station and rebuilding the existing single-line track between Luxembourg and Pétange into double-track.
Upgrading the Luxembourg-Pétange line
While the 18.1km-long Luxembourg-Pétange project seems very straightforward on paper, it was quite a challenge in reality. Due to the limited size of our country, which is only 54km-wide and 82km-long, Luxembourg has a very peculiar, star-shaped railway network with Luxembourg Central Station being in the middle. This makes modernisation of the network very difficult, as you generally cannot shut down a line and transport passengers over existing alternatives.
While the Luxembourg-Pétange line could theoretically be bypassed via Esch/Alzette, this would be a poor choice for any potential customer, as travel would take almost an hour instead of 25 minutes. Of course for most Europeans this doesn’t sound like much, but again due to our country’s limited size, this was unacceptable in Luxembourg.
Instead, CFL chose to modernise with as little interference as possible with regular train traffic. Obviously, throughout the renovations, the line had to be closed-off during a few weekends and our customers had to travel by bus or car.
Starting out as a simple case of laying a second track next to the existing one, our engineers quickly realised that rebuilding the whole existing infrastructure would be cheaper than the original project in the long-run. At the same time, any future works on this line would be safer, as the distance in-between the tracks has been widened to a comfortable 4.60m.
As with every infrastructure modernisation, we try to eliminate as many level crossings as possible, as these are the prime cause for delays through technical faults and accidents on our network. In this case, all but one of these crossings could be closed completely and replaced by an underpass. The only remaining level crossing will stay in service for just another year or two, depending on when ‘Ponts & Chaussées’, Luxembourg’s road management administration, will be able to finally acquire the land needed for the new road connecting the already built underpass to the existing roads.
At the same time, all the stations along the Luxembourg-Pétange line have been completely rebuilt to the international accessibility standard. Each platform in every station can be accessed by people with reduced mobility without requiring assistance. This has been achieved by installing elevators or escalators at the various stations. Guiding lines for visually impaired people are laid from the platforms to the bus and taxi stations and to the parking spaces.
New ecological car and bicycle parking; i.e. the land has not been sealed, but covered only where absolutely needed with permeable materials, such as lattice stones and loose chippings, have been built in every station, making Luxembourg’s public transport system ever more accessible. On the topic of ecology, a few compensation measures were required for the project to be acceptable. Thus, a small herd of Angus cows are now grazing on CFL-owned land that was acquired for this reason only.
On 7 December 2012, when the new line could officially be re-opened in total by our Transport Minister, Claude Wiseler, CFL could announce that through the modern – ised line, rail services could be vastly improved. The number of trains running on this line grew from 49 to 99 trains per day on average. Service is now running throughout the day every half hour in each direction and every 15 minutes during rush hour. A local advertisement campaign has already shown promising effects.
Issue 1 2011 / 15 February 2011 /
Strategically placed in the centre of Europe, Luxembourg’s railway network attracts, through the combined efforts of CFL and its freight subsidiaries CFL cargo and CFL Multimodal, important quantities of both passenger and freight traffic. Concerning freight transport, Luxembourg was no stranger to the effects the financial crisis had on the world. By and large, heavy industry transported less products and raw materials throughout the last two years. Still, the CFL freight operators were able to compensate for the losses by recruiting a variety of smaller transport contracts, resulting in more freight trains running on the CFL network.
In 2002, the Luxembourg Ministry of Transport collaborated with CFL to work out a public transport strategy called ‘mobilitéit.lu’. The document, or plan, included details about development projects of public transport infrastructure and included in particular plans to develop the existing railway line between Pétange and Luxembourg into a dual carriageway.
Operating a small rail network has its moments. Instead of being forced to go after huge parts of the European market to maintain competitiveness and thus being expected to operate a fleet of thousands of locomotives and coaches, a comparatively small railway company, such as CFL, enjoys the luxury of being able to invest into a few select areas, allowing them to micromanage and thus excel in them.
In every recent statistic about wealth and world markets, Luxembourg can be found in the top slot of GDP per capita listings, making Luxembourgers, at least in theory, somewhat wealthy people. As can be expected from this statistic, individual transportation is at an all-time high. This, in combination with Luxembourg’s limited territorial assets, gives our country the problem of over-saturation of public roads. A single road repair on a motorway can lock up traffic around Luxembourg City quite efficiently on work-day mornings and seriously delay commuters.