New rail tunnel to open on 5 April

The new rail tunnel that will make it possible to travel direct from the Brussels-Schuman station in the European District to Brussels Airport at Zaventem in Flemish Brabant will open on 5 April. The opening is subject to the results of an emergency drill that will be held on Thursday 25 February and Friday 26 February.

The tunnel that is part of the Regional Express Network, should have opened in December of last year. However, its opening was delayed as a result of the heightened terror alert.

Emergency procedures must be tested first before the tunnel can open. Thomas Baeken of the company responsible for Belgium’s rail infrastructure infrabel told the Brussels regional news site that "During the drill we will simulate a major incident in the tunnel. Each of the five emergency/safety services will be involved. 100 extras will play the victims of the accident”.

Based on the result of the exercise the rail safety watchdog DVIS will decide whether or not the tunnel is safe. If it is given the thumbs up, 8 trains an hour to and from various destinations (four in each direction) will travel through the tunnel from 5 April.

The opening was delayed as the emergency drill couldn’t carried due to emergency service’s personnel not being available as a result of the heightened terror threat. The 1.25 kilometre tunnel has cost 365 million euro to build.