Lillo Bridge renovation receives European support

Lillo Bridge renovation receives European support

Port of Antwerp-Bruges — 2024-01-24

Members Corner

Port of Antwerp-Bruges and Infrabel will receive €23 m from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the renovation of the Lillo Bridge. They submitted a European subsidy file in September 2023 for the renovation of the bridge and the renewal of the tracks. Today the European Commission announced that it will effectively support the project with a grant from the Connecting Europe Facility.

The Lillo Bridge was built in 1967. It is the only bridge over the Canal Dock. It connects the area between the Scheldt and the Canal Dock with the hinterland and is very important for the chemical cluster and container terminals in that zone. Due to the increase in both rail and shipping traffic, the bridge had to open and close more and more frequently. This resulted in material fatigue of the steel and balance structures. By the end of 2019, this had progressed so far that the bridge was taken out of service.

Since then, trains have had to detour via line 11 via the Zandvliet-Berendrecht lock complex and around BASF. This not only quadrupled the distance, but it also caused extra waiting times at the lock complex. Rail transport to this zone became less interesting. The number of trains to and from the zone fell by approximately 30%.

By approving a European subsidy for the renovation of the Lillo Bridge, the European Commission also recognizes the strategic importance of the bridge for smooth rail transport in the port area and the wider region. In total, 50% of the renovation costs are borne by Europe, which amounts to approximately €22.43 m for Port of Antwerp-Bruges and €500,000 for Infrabel.

The process of renovating the Lillo Bridge has already started: in December 2023 there was a call for candidate contractors. The specifications are now being further refined and shared with the candidates in the spring. In addition, the application for an environmental permit has already been submitted and has now been declared admissible. The works will be completed by the end of 2027 at the latest.

Annick De Ridder, port alderman of the City of Antwerp and chairman of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges: “The Lillo Bridge, built in 1967, is the only bridge over the Canal Dock and was of strategic importance for rail transport for our petrochemical cluster and container terminals. . Unfortunately, the bridge had to be taken out of service at the end of 2019 due to material fatigue. With the approval of a European subsidy for the renovation of this bridge, we as a port can take a new step towards more rail transport. And thus make the economic engine of Flanders, which is our port, even more sustainable.”