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The HSL 4 and HSL-Zuid rail lines

The HSL 4 (Dutch: HogeSnelheidsLijn, lit. High Speed Line) is a Belgian high-speed rail line which connects Brussels to the Dutch border. 87 km long (40 km dedicated high speed tracks, 57 km modernised lines), it was scheduled for completion by 2007.

Together with the HSL 1 to the French border and HSL-Zuid to Amsterdam, the line has shortened journeys between Brussels, Paris and the Netherlands. HSL 4 is used by Thalys trains, and is also planned to be used by fast internal InterCity and NS Hispeed trains.

Contents

Route

From Brussels-Midi station, trains travel northwards through the Central/Centraal and Noord/Nord stations. At Schaarbeek the line splits in two; the eastern branch continues to Liège and the German border, the northern branch towards Antwerp and the Dutch border. Between Brussels and Antwerp (47 km), trains travel at 160 km/h on the upgraded existing line (with the exception of a few segments where a speed limit of 120 km/h is imposed).

In Antwerp, a tunnel has been constructed underneath the city to permit high-speed trains to run directly through Antwerpen-Centraal station to the new high-speed line north of the city. Trains enter the 1.5 km long, two-tube tunnel at 90 km/h.

The line returns to the surface at Antwerpen-Dam station, and after crossing the Albert canal, joins the existing Antwerp-Essen line. At the E19/A12 motorway junction, trains leave the regular line to run on new dedicated high-speed tracks to the Dutch border (40 km) at 300 km/h. The route parallels the E19 motorway until the border, which has required the building of several bridges.

The line passes through Schoten, Brasschaat, Brecht, Wuustwezel, and Hoogstraten, before crossing the border into the Netherlands and connecting to the Dutch HSL-Zuid.

Stations

Antwerpen-Centraal station has been completely reorganised. A tunnel has been constructed to permit the passage of trains under the city, additionally creating a subterranean junction between Berchem station and Antwerpen-Dam station, passing through Antwerpen-Centraal. With these works completed, the station has four levels and 14 tracks:

  • level +1 (the original station) has 6 terminating tracks, arranged as two groups of three and separated by an opening allowing natural light to reach the lower levels
  • level 0 contains ticketing facilities and commercial space
  • level −1 (7 meters below road level) has 4 terminating tracks, also arranged as two groups
  • level −2 (18 meters below road level) has 4 tracks, which end up in the two-track-wide tunnel under the city (used by high-speed trains and fast InterCity services)

The HSL 4 will also be the only high-speed line in Belgium that features an intermediate station at Noorderkempen (Brecht) for use in regular speed passenger service.

See also

External links

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