Benjamin Brolet

New rail bypass will serve to improve services between Antwerp, Mechelen and Brussels

In a week’s time, on Monday 14 December, a new rail bypass will open at Mechelen in Antwerp Province. The new infrastructure will ensure that in time rail services between Antwerp, Mechelen and Brussels can be improved. The rail bypass is made up of two stretches of track, one in each direction, and is part of a wider scheme to renew the infrastructure at Mechelen station. 

In a press statement the company responsible for Belgium’s rail infrastructure Infrabel said “In the first instance the new track has been put in to ensure that we can maintain existing services while we continue work on Mechelen station. Once this work has finished services can be increased”.

Mechelen station is being given a complete make over. With this in mind, Infrabel has constructed the so-called “rail bypass”. This has created two extra platforms at the Mechelen’s main railway station. They will enter service from next week.

“In an initial phase the new track and platforms 11 at 12 at Mechelen station will be used to create extra capacity, allowing the track and other platforms at the station to be renewed without any loss of capacity” Infrabel’s Frédéric Petit told VRT News.

However, the extra capacity means that extra trains will be able to run on the busy Antwerp-Mechelen-Brussels route. It will also allow for extra services to be run to and from Zaventem Airport just outside Brussels.

The work at Mechelen station will be completed in 7 years. It includes not only the renewal of the station’s platforms, but also the construction of two underpasses., the demolition of the station building and the creation of new public open space. The Belgian rail company NMBS is investing 105 million euro in the renewal of the station.

Once the work has been completed international high speed services such as Eurostar and Thalys (that don’t stop at Mechelen) will be able to pass through the station at 160 km/h. Currently a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h is in force for train passing through Mechelen station.

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