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Benelux Profile - Articles and news items

Infrabel is putting the finishing touches to its Diabolo project

Issue 1 2012 / 6 February 2012 /

Infrabel, the manager of the Belgian railway infrastructure, is currently putting the finishing touches to Diabolo – the new direct rail link to and from Brussels Airport. With four months before the rail link goes into service, Luc Lallemand, Infrabel’s CEO, exclusively tells European Railway Review the most important achievements and strategic priorities of the prestigious Diabolo project.

Strategic railway link in the centre of Europe
Thanks to Diabolo, Brussels Airport will be directly connected with the major axes of the Belgian network and also with several European cities, via the international axes Frankfurt–Liège–Brussels–Paris and Amster – dam–Brussels–Paris.

After the completion of the Belgian highspeed network in 2009, which is now in service and which covers the Belgian territory from border to border (in the direction of France, Germany and the Netherlands and in the direction of Great Britain through the Eurotunnel) Belgium once again has strategically positioned itself at the centre of Europe.

Diabolo is an underground railway connection between the Brussels-National- Airport station (in the airport itself) and the new double railway line Schaerbeek–Mechelen (L25N) along the central reservation of the E19 motorway, which will also contribute to improving congestion to and from the capital.

Adjusted rail profile makes Dutch rail virtually free from Head Checks

Issue 1 2012 / 6 February 2012 /

Since 2006, infra-manager ProRail has been keeping the Dutch rail free from Head Checks by grinding the rails in an Anti Head Check profile. Head Checks (HC) are rail defects that are created by wheel-rail contact. These can be serious safety threats. I obtained my doctorate in 2010 with the dissertation titled ‘Design of an Anti Head Check profile based on stress relief 1,2. I designed a rail profile that saves ProRail €50 million of maintenance costs for the rails per year. This rail profile made the volume of HC decrease by over 70% since late-2008. Head Checks are becoming extinct in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, approximately 70% of the total annual maintenance budget is spent on rails, including foundation, sleepers, ballast, constructions and switches3. Rails may seem to be simple elements, but they deserve ample attention. The wheel-rail contact is the force that brings the degeneration of both separate systems together. All failing mechanisms can eventually be brought down to this dynamic contact system. This also played a role in the serious and fatal UK rail accident in 2000 at Hatfield, where rails affected by HC broke down.

Shocked by this, infra-manager ProRail took a look at the situation in the Netherlands. Inspections proved that here HC was a serious problem as well: 10% of the curves (rails) appeared to have been affected. The safety, reliability and availability of the rails was in danger. The problem increased and expo – nentially grew each year. In the peak year 2004, ProRail spent €50 million on fighting HC.