The northern link from Brussels Airport is designed to achieve a significant increase in the market share held by passenger transport services ‘by rail’ to and from the national airport, thereby curbing the ever-increasing volumes of traffic on the road network around the airport. Towards this end, further links to the airport have to be created, while the capacity of the Brussels-National-Airport station is being boosted.

The scheme to allow completely unhindered access to destinations by rail from Brussels Airport is called the Diabolo project. In late 2005 the first phase of the extension of the rail infrastructure to the airport was launched with the building of ‘the Nossegem curve’, to allow trains from Leuven/Liege to travel directly to the airport.

Between 2007 and 2012 the second phase involved creating the northern link. This consisted of:

  1. boosting the capacity of the existing Brussels-National-Airport underground station by establishing a transfer hub there and extending the existing platform tracks;
  2. an additional connection between this expanded station and Mechelen/Antwerp;
  3. an additional connection between this expanded station and Brussels;
  4. a new railway line 25N between Schaarbeek-Vorming and Mechelen.

The northern access was commissioned in mid-2012. In a final phase, line 36C/2 between the Machelen-Zuid and Keelbeek branch lines was completed. This railway line is a crucial link in the connection between the Brussels-Schuman and Brussels Airport stations. This last section is operational since April 2016.

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TUC RAIL's role

The task assigned to TUC RAIL for completing the programmes related to the northern link from Zaventem Brussels Airport takes the form of a comprehensive assignment covering the following activities:

  • overseeing the Project Management services focused on the programmes (budget, planning, risks, …)
  • conducting preliminary studies and completing all the various administrative procedures for obtaining the licences required to carry out the work
  • conducting implementation studies covering all the work (civil engineering, rails, overhead cables, signals, …)
  • managing all works contracts (awarding contracts, contract management , …)
  • securing the necessary certificate of approval to allow for the commercial start-up stage to begin.

TUC RAIL solutions to the limitations of the programmes

Undertaking a program of this scale invariably requires finding solutions to problems and constraints in the area of security, mobility, environment, town planning, etc.

In the case of the Diabolo program, TUC RAIL has succeeded in:

  1. minimising the environmental impact;
  2. minimising the impact on airport operations;
  3. minimising the impact on the access roads and the Brucargo enterprise zone;
  4. minimising the inconvenience for local residents;
  5. guarantee the safety of the underground infrastructure.

Click here to view pictures of the northern rail link from Brussels Airport.