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Straight track
high-speed line to Cologne
Station on track
70,2 Aachen Hbf Change of system
Junction to right
to Mönchengladbach
Non-passenger station on track
72,9 Aachen Süd former station Ronheide
Enter and exit tunnel
Old and new Buschtunnel (692/711 m)
Unknown route-map component "eABZrf"
to the Montzen route
Restricted border on track
Germany / Belgium
Stop on track
44,5 Hergenrath
Bridge over water
Hammerbridge over the river Geul (220 m)
Junction to right
Weser valley line to Chênée,
Start of dedicated line
Small bridge
Railway bridge Hauset
Unknown route-map component "KRZo"
Ruyff Valley viaduct (264 m), Weser valley line
Large bridge
Battice viaduct (1232 m)
Large bridge
Herve bridge (505 m)
Large bridge
José bridge (421 m)
Enter and exit short tunnel
Tunnel Voie des Maçon (577 m)
Enter and exit tunnel
Soumagne tunnel (6530 m)
Bridge over water
Junction from left
Weser valley line from Hergenrath,
End of dedicated line
Station on track
4,1 Chênée
Bridge over water
Junction from left
from Luxemburg
Station on track
2,9 Angleur
Unknown route-map component "ABZdf"
to Maastricht and Flémalle
Unknown route-map component "KRZo"
2,2 Maastricht–Flémalle railway line
Unknown route-map component "ABZdg"
from Maastricht and Flémalle
Bridge over water
Junction from left
Diversion around Flémalle
Station on track
0,0 Liège-Guillemins

The HSL 3 is a Belgian high-speed rail line. It connects Liège to the German border near Aachen. The line is 56 km (35 mi) long, of which 42 km (26 mi) are dedicated high-speed tracks.

The line was technically completed in October 2007, however it did not come into to operation until June 14th, 2009[1] when ICE trains began service. Thalys are planned to use the track by the end of 2009.[1] The gap between completion of the line and its actual use is due to difficulties in the implementation of the safety system ECTS level 2, specifically, finding trains with ERTMS fitted.[1]

Together with the HSL 2 and HSL 1 to the French border, the combined eastward high speed line has greatly reduced journey times between Brussels, Paris and Germany. HSL 3 has cut Liège – Köln journey times from 1 h 23 min to 1 h 1 min.[1] It is planned that HSL 3 will be used only by international Thalys and ICE trains, as opposed to HSL 2 which is also used for fast internal InterCity services.



Belgian high speed network.

Trains leave the reconstructed Liège-Guillemins station over the upgraded classic line, at speeds which progressively rise to 160 km/h (99 mph). Chênée marks the beginning of the dedicated high-speed tracks. The line crosses the Vesdre river, then traverses a 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long tunnel between Vaux-sous-Chèvremont and Soumagne. This is the longest double-track tunnel in Belgium, and has a speed limit of 200 km/h.[1]

The line then runs parallel to the E40 motorway with a speed limit of 260 km/h;[1] shortly after the village of Walhorn, it passes under the E40 in a cut-and-cover section, and rejoins the regular line. Trains run on the upgraded classic line at 160 km/h (99 mph), pass over the Hammerbrücke viaduct (entirely reconstructed for the project), and cross the border 2 km further on.

Beyond the border, high-speed trains travel along upgraded existing rail lines to Aachen Hauptbahnhof. Trains use left-hand running along this section (as in Belgium), switching over to right-hand running, which is common in Germany, at Aachen.


Infrabel, the Belgian rail infrastructure manager, constructed the line through its subsidiary TUC Rail, who built the 36 km line between 2001 and 2007 at a cost of €830m, including ETCS Level 2 signalling.[1]

The most notable construction subproject is the 6,505-metre (7,114 yd) long tunnel at Soumagne, which is the longest railway tunnel in Belgium. The bored section is 5,940 metres (6,500 yd), extended by covered sections of respectively 177 and 388 m. Dozens of geological layers of differing hardness had to be tunnelled through, lime layers needing to be blasted through with dynamite. The tunnel reaches a depth of 127 m in some areas; it has an average ramp height of 1.7%, with a maximum of 2% at the entrance in Soumagne. The free space profile in the tunnel is approximately 69 m2 (740 sq ft), which restricts speeds to 200 km/h (120 mph). The tunnel was built between 14 May 2001 and August 2005.


See also


External links



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