July 2017 BLNI Extra No. 27 – Belgium
[C65] Belgium - Railways through Kontich, from 1836 to today
As of 11 June 2017, the new summer schedules went into force. Among the more remarkable changes is a
name-change for the Kontich station on Line 25/27, which from now on will be known as 'Kontich-Lint'
station, serving both the villages of Kontich and Lint.
Kontich and the lost Antwerpen branch lines: Lines 25A, 52/1 and 61.
The present Kontich-Lint station is one of the oldest on the network: located on the railway line
Antwerpen - Mechelen (Line 25) which was first taken into use on 3 May 1836, it was first opened as an
unmanned stop named 'Kontich' on 21 November 1839, despite being located well outside of the village it
served (2.2 km from the village's centre). Initially, the stop was just a hardened shoulder, which was
operated from the nearby Duffel station, but in 1840, shelters were erected. The construction of the
railway line also changed Kontich itself; the railway line effectively became a border, and the part east of
the line became a separate village by the name of Lint in 1870.
In 1855 Kontich grew in importance when Line 13 was built, branching off from Line 27 (in the direction of
Brussels) and connecting Antwerpen with Lier. The line was opened on 23 April 1855; this date not only
marked the opening of the line itself, but also the inauguration of the station of Lier. If you look on a map,
you will notice that the Lier station is aligned along Line 13; today's busier, direct Antwerpen-Lier line was
inaugurated 9 years later, on 6 July 1864, by the Grand Central Belge (GCB) private company. With Line 13,
Kontich became a much busier station, and in 1857 its first permanent station building was erected.
In the 1870s Line 61 was built, originally intended as an international line connecting Antwerpen with
Douai in France, though eventually never serving this purpose. Starting out on the Antwerpen-Brussels
line, Line 61 branched off from the line south of Mortsel-Oude-God station (for traffic out of Antwerpen)
and north of Kontich (for traffic out of Brussels). When it was first opened Line 61 ran via Kontich to
Boom; later work saw the line extended via Willebroek, Londerzeel and Opwijk to Aalst. It is worth noting
that Line 61 predated Line 52 by 15 years: as a result of this, the station of Boom is aligned along line 61.
In the village of Kontich, a second station was built on the new line, becoming Kontich-West (located 350
metres from the village centre); the railway line and station were inaugurated on 28 December 1875. With
the opening of the second Kontich station, the original station alongside Line 25 was renamed as Kontich-
Oost. In 1903, both stations were renamed: Kontich-West, in the village centre, became Kontich-Dorp,
while Kontich-Oost became Kontich-Kazerne, named for the military barracks that were erected next to
the station in 1872.
While the stations of Edegem (1888), Kontich-West/Kontich-Dorp (1875) and Reet (1875) were all fully-
fledged stations with a ticket office, goods shed and loading ramp, it appears few passenger services ran
on this line before the First World War; Line 61 was predominantly used for local freight services. (Note:
until 1938, 'Kontich' was written as 'Contich'.)
Kontich becomes a crossroads - the 'Express Line' 25A
Towards the end of the 1800s, the Antwerpen harbour started developing along the southern edge of the
city; as such, railway activity began to develop. As early as 1877, a station was built in the southern part of
Antwerpen: this was a small station located within the city walls, connected via the Scheldt quay with the
Antwerpen-Dam freight yard.
In 1879, Line 52 to Boom opened, but this initially terminated in Hoboken on the site of the present-day
Hoboken-Polder station. As Antwerpen was still considered to be a military fortified city, there was an
initial reluctance from the military authorities to allow the fortress wall to be 'breached'.
Line 52 was linked to both lines 25 and 15 via the 'military' line 52/1, a line built to serve the fortress ring
that was constructed around the outskirts of the city in the 1870s and 1880s.
Eventually, in 1894, permission was given for the railway line to breach the fortification walls, and
connection lines were built which gave access both to Hoboken on Line 52, and Wilrijk on Line 52/1.
The latter was the onset of a direct line which would connect the new Antwerpenen-Zuid station to
Brussels. Conceived from the onset as an express line, the new line, 25A, was eventually completed in
1907. Running in an almost straight line from Mechelen to Antwerpen-Zuid, the line had as few level
crossings as possible: for the most part, the line either ran in a cutting or on embankment.
Despite it being a direct line, two stops were built for local traffic: one was Kontich-Nieuwe-Lei, located
some 500 metres outside the village centre; the other was the manned station of Waarloos.
After the First World War: Decline of Lines 25A and 61
In the end, neither Lines 61 nor 25A proved to be commercial successes. After the First World War, much
of the Belgian railway network was left damaged, including Line 25 between Antwerpen and Brussels
(repaired in 1920), and line 61 between Kontich-Kazerne and Kontich-Dorp (dismantled).
As early as 1913 plans had existed to electrify much of the railway network around Antwerpen, including
both of the Antwerpen-Brussels lines (25 & 25A). However, following World War One priority was given to
repairing the damaged network; by the time the plans were finally revived in the late 1920s, the economic
crisis struck, and it was a much watered-down plan which was eventually realised in the 1930s.
In the end, the choice was made to electrify only Line 25. The refurbished line was conceived as a high-
speed line similar to the concept used for Line 25A, replacing the existing level crossings with bridges and
tunnels, and with parts of the new lines rebuilt in cuts of their own. The reconstruction of Line 25 at
Mortsel meant that the branch line towards Kontich had to be cut: on 5 October 1930, the last train
stopped at Edegem station, between Mortsel-Oude-God and Kontich-Dorp. With the closure threatening
the existence of Line 61, the connecting bow between Kontich-Dorp and Kontich-Kazerne was reinstated,
and for the first time since its construction in 1875, this part of the route was used for scheduled
passenger traffic: these local services (Kontich-Kazerne to Boom) made use of new and cheaper to operate
With traffic from Antwerpen to Boom being directed via lines 25A and 61, both Kontich-Dorp and Kontich-
Nieuwe-Lei were bypassed: as such, a new station, Kontich-Molenstraat was built on Line 25A to replace
After the new Line 25/27 was fully opened to traffic in 1935, the section of Line 25A between Antwerpen-
Zuid and Line 52/1 was closed to traffic and eventually broken up.
The final nudge: World War II and the post-War decline
The German invasion on 10 May 1940 once again resulted in the destruction of large parts of the Belgian
railway network, and when passenger traffic was restored in August of 1940 only a limited service was
offered. Numerous stops were axed, some of them permanently; among the many victims were the
stations on Line 25A.
After the end of the Second World War much of the railway network was reorganised. The boom of
private car ownership, together with the cost of repairing and running a much-damaged railway network,
led to an economy drive in the 1950s which saw numerous smaller branchlines closed.
On 2 October 1952 Line 61 was closed for passenger traffic between Boom and Kontich, with local freight
services being discontinued two years later. Soon after, almost the entire line was broken up, except for
the freight yard at Kontich-Dorp, accessible via Line 25A, which served a local factory until 1969. After its
closure, the entire site was razed in 1972 to make way for the expressway N171.
In the 1960s works to improve the road network around the city of Antwerpen heralded the end of Lines
25A and 52/1. The construction of the ring motorway around Antwerpen left no future for the station of
Antwerpen-Zuid. With the harbour activities gradually moving towards the north of Antwerpen, and
passenger services being transferred to Antwerpen-Centraal, the station of Antwerpen-Zuid had become a
shadow of its former self, and the final blow came when the decision was taken to demolish the entire
station so the site could be used for the construction of the 'Kennedy Tunnel', a tunnel complex which
would both host a dual carriageway and a train link between the east and west bank of the Scheldt river,
and its motorway interchange.
The dismantling of the station site started in 1965, with the Antwerpen-Zuid station building at the
Bolivarplaats being dynamited in November of that year. Despite this, passenger services kept on
operating out of the increasingly demolished station until 5 February 1968, when the site was abandoned
and a temporary station erected about 1 km further along the line, near the Emiel Vloorsstraat. This
station remained in service until 1 June 1968, when Line 52 was connected with the new Ringline into
Antwerpen-Berchem (part of Line 59), which runs along the Antwerpen Ring.
After the Kennedy tunnel was opened to traffic on 1 February 1970, the old Line 52/1 as well as the
connecting Line 25A became surplus to requirements. Despite this, the 'old' and 'new' Ringlines around
Antwerpen operated alongside one another for a number of months; the last service on Line 52/1 ran on
29 September 1970. Soon after, the bed of Line 52/1 was largely used for the construction of the R11
ringway between Mortsel and Hoboken, while the bed of Line 25A was used between the R11 and Kontich
for the E19 Antwerpen-Brussels motorway.
Line 13 and the 'original' Lint station
As previously mentioned, Line 13 had opened to traffic in 1855, built by the Belgian State railways (Etat
Belge) as part of the line linking Antwerpen to Turnhout via Kontich and Lier. 9 years later, in 1864, it was
joined by a second line: present-day Line 15, which links Antwerpen to Lier via Boechout, and which was
originally commissioned by the Grand Central Belge company as part of its 'Iron Rhine' railway line.
With the Grand Central Belge having a concession on most traffic through Lier, Line 13 soon diminished in
importance. Among the few scheduled passenger services on the line was an Antwerpen-Turnhout
service, which connected to the Antwerpen-Brussels services at Kontich – this was because there was no
connection to the line in the direction of Brussels.
In 1888 the Etat Belge opened a number of additional stations on a number of lines, to improve local
services. This included the stop at Lint on Line 13, which was opened on 1 September 1888. Initially only a
passenger stop, services were extended to include freight in 1903.
After the Etat Belge fully absorbed the operations of the Grand Central Belge in 1898, they were slow to
fully integrate the operations of both companies; in fact this did not happen prior to World War One, and
as such, the company used both Lines 13 and 15 for its traffic from Antwerpen to Lier.
The first connecting line from Brussels to Lier was built under the most extraordinary circumstances. Soon
after the First World War broke out, plans were made for the construction of a military line to aid in the
defence of the fortified position of Antwerpen. The construction of this 70-km long military line, which
connected the outer ring of fortified positions around the city, was approved on 5 September; by 1
October, the line had been built in its entirety. Running from Boom via Duffel, Lier, Broechem, Oelegem,
Schilde, Schoten, Brasschaat and Kapellen to Lillo, the line was completed just in time... to be abandoned,
as the German advance on Antwerpen could no longer be halted. Just four days after its completion, on 5
October 1914, Antwerpen fell to the Germans.
After the War, the military line remained in place until 1924, when the decision was taken about its
ultimate fate. While portions of the line were broken up, some sections remained in place. The line
between Lier and Oelegem became an industrial branchline, of which the last section was only closed as
late as 1988; however, the section between Duffel and Lier was taken into service as a connecting line for
passenger traffic out of and into Brussels.
In 1937, as part of the works to lines 25 and 27, a new connecting bow was laid in Kontich: this bow, now
known as Line 13/1, finally connected Line 13 with Lines 25 & 27 in the direction of Brussels. Following
this, the 1914 Duffel-Lier line was taken out of service and broken up.
With the introduction of diesel units in the 1930s, local services started running on Line 13, connecting Lier
via both Kontich stations to Boom. However, when local services were abandoned in the early 1950s, this
created a knock-on effect on line 13. The last local services stopped at Lint station on 29 September 1957,
after which the station was demolished. It would be nearly 60 years before the name Lint was once again
attached to a station.
- Station Kontich-Lint (Lines 13, 25 & 27): opened 21 November 1839; known as Kontich (1839-
1875); Kontich-Oost (1875-1903); Kontich-Kazerne (1903-1974) & Kontich (1974-2017)
- Station Lint (Line 13); opened 1 September 1888; closed 29 September 1957.
- Station Kontich-Dorp (Line 61): opened 28 December 1875, known as Kontich-West (1875-1903)
and Kontich-Dorp (1903-1970). Closed to passengers 2 October 1952; closed to freight 1969.
- Station Kontich-Nieuwe-Lei (Line 25A): opened 16 April 1907, closed 5 October 1930.
- Station Kontich-Molenstraat (Lines 25A & 61): opened 5 October 1930, closed 10 May 1940.
With thanks to Nikko Yaginuma
[C66] Belgium – Ninove gets a beer train
On Tuesday 13 June the first test beer train ran from Jupille to Ninove. This was a collaboration between
Jupiler, Lineas, Remitrans (Transport Company and unloader of the beer) and Delhaize (supermarket with
big depot 200m further on in the same industrial park). It has been 25 years since a train has used the
sidings at Ninove belonging to Remitrans. Until 2008 trees grew between the tracks, after which the track
was renewed and in 2016 the points/switches changed.
The composition of the train was locomotive 7789 (Black Lineas livery), 7784 (Black Lineas livery) 2 covered
railway wagons with Jupiler, 2 container wagons and 1 container wagon with wecon container system. The
wecon container system is an easy system to unload a container from a wagon to a lorry.Regular services
could start in early January 2018. Ninove is a station on Lijn 90 and the connection to Remitrans is
connected with track 3. The sidings to Remitrans have 2 non-electric tracks. Thanks to Pieter Blancquaert
[C67] Belgium – Antwerpen tram changes
5 June 2017 service changes
The metro ramp on the Frankrijklei was scheduled to open on 5 June and line 24A (P+R Schoonselhof) was
to be withdrawn. Instead, its route was taken over by Line 10, which now runs from P+R Schoonselhof to
Wijnegem, with underground stops at the Astrid and Zegel stations.
This also had an impact on Line 8 (P+R Wommelgem - Astrid) which has now taken over the southern
portion of Line 12 between Astrid and Bolivarplaats. Line 12 uses the Melkmarkt loop to turn back instead.
The above-ground tracks between the Rooseveltplaats and the crossing 'Frankrijklei' - 'Maria-Theresialei'
are to be broken up.
The scheduled extension of Tram line 7 has been postponed until further notice, due to the necessary
testing not being completed.
Also planned for 5 June were the extensions of both Lines 6 and 7. Line 6 (Olympiade - Luchtbal) was
extended from its current terminus "Groendaallaan/Metropolis" to "P+R Havanna"; Line 7 was also
extended from its current loop at the Sint-Pietersvliet (formerly 'Tolhuis') to a new loop near the MAS-
1 September 2017 service change
Starting on 1 September (but most likely 4 September), Line 10 should take the new metro ramp at the
'Turnhoutsepoort' in use. From that date onwards, the line would once again serve its old route between
stops 'Ruggeveld' and 'Cogelsplein' before going underground; the old stops 'Hof ter Lo' and
'Turnhoutsepoort' will no longer be served.
15 January 2018 service change
On 15 January 2018, Line 7 will have a second extension, after which it will run from its current stop 'Sint-
Pietersvliet' to the 'P+R Havana' loop. From its current stop, the final route of Line 7 would be the
following: 'Sint Pietersvliet' - 'Van Meterenkaai' - 'Tavernierkaai' - 'Rijnkaai' - 'Amsterdamstraat' -
'Londenbrug' - 'Londenstraat' and 'Noorderlaan', up to the corner of the Noorderlaan and
30 September 2018 service change
On or around 30 September 2018, metro station 'Astrid' should once again open, after a closure lasting
two years (started 1 September 2016). When it reopens, the station will have three levels: '-1' (bike stalls
and underground car park); '-2' (platforms for lines 2, 3, 9 and 15); and '-3' (platforms for lines 8 & 10).
2019 service change
In 2019, the new tramlines should open on the Italielei, connecting the current lines on the
Rooseveltplaats with the new lines on the crossing 'Italielei' - 'Londenstraat' - 'Noorderlaan'. No plans have
yet been made public on which line(s) would be serving this new section of tramline, so expect a major
shake-up at this date.
Antwerpen tram network as of 18 April 2017:
 Hoboken – Merksem
 Merksem – Zwijndrecht
 Hoboken – Silsburg
 Wijnegem – Linkeroever
 Olympiade – Luchtbal
 Mortsel - Sint-Pietersvliet
 P+R Wommelgem – Astrid
 Eksterlaar – Linkeroever
 Wijnegem – Astrid
 Berchem Station – Melkmarkt
 Sportpaleis – Bolivarplaats
 Boechout P+R – Linkeroever
[24A] P+R Schoonselhof - Centraal Station
[24b] Silsburg – Melkmarkt
Antwerpen tram network as of 5 June 2017:
 Hoboken – Merksem
 Merksem – Zwijndrecht
 Hoboken – Silsburg
 Wijnegem – Linkeroever
 Olympiade - P+R Havana
 Mortsel - Sint Pietersvliet (soon to be extended to MAS, will become Mortsel - P+R Havana on 15
 P+R Wommelgem – Zuidstation
 Eksterlaar – Linkeroever
 Wijnegem - P+R Schoonselhof
 Berchem Station – Melkmarkt
 Sportpaleis – Melkmarkt
 Boechout P+R – Linkeroever
 Silsburg – Melkmarkt
With thanks to Nikko Yaginuma
[C68] Belgium - Works around Brugge and Zeebrugge
Just north of Brugge (Bruges to the British), crossovers from the Oostende line to the
Blankenberge/Zeebrugge/Knokke line were for a long time the source of conflict and delay, restricting line
speeds and capacity. To resolve this Infrabel commenced construction of a 528-metre single track flyover
in May 2011 for use by southbound trains off the Blankenberg/Zeebrugge/Knokke line. The first passenger
train used the line on 9 February 2015 at 17:49.
Subsequently Infrabel announced the construction from April 2015 of new arrival and departure yards (24
electrified tracks), at Zwankendamme, to be completed by mid-2018. In a second phase, the current yard
at Zeebrugge will be expanded and renewed with 30 tracks by the end of 2019. The works also include the
construction of a new bridge, replacing the Wulfsberge in Zwankendam.
Earlier, Infrabel had optimized the rail capacity in and around the port of Zeebrugge, including the Boog
Ter Doest (a direct connection between the railways of the western and eastern port zones) and a new rail
link between the Pelikan and the Ramskapelle yards.