High-speed line Antwerpen – Hasselt

This proposed line would create a high-speed route to the east from Antwerpen, across the southern Kempen, to Hasselt. The project has sufficient logic in itself, since the existing line is a major freight route, and the alignment restricts higher speeds at some places. It would also connect to the proposed high-speed line Hasselt – Maastricht, to a new Maastricht – Aachen high-speed line, and the proposed high-speed line Hasselt – Liège. In combination with a west-to-north curve north of Leuven, the new line also creates a high-speed route from Brussels to Maastricht.

For much of the route, the new line would run alongside the existing line. The new alignment consists of three separate projects:

  • a high-speed exit from Antwerpen, which would also form part of a north-Kempen HSL to Eindhoven;
  • a high-speed by-pass of Aarschot, replacing the existing curve north of the station, and
  • a high-speed by-pass of Diest.

The proposed line has no intermediate stations, and trains would stop only at Hasselt. From Hasselt eastwards, the line would be 4-tracked and upgraded as far as Beverst. There, the new lines would diverge from the existing alignment: to Liège (along the A13 motorway), and to Maastricht (north of, and parallel to the N2). From Hasselt a new regional line to Sittard is also possible.

In Antwerpen, the line would diverge from the existing main line to the south, near the airport: an approximate route is shown. The alignment would pass north of Lier, where it would split (no detailed route is shown). The southern fork would turn to join the existing line to Aarschot, east of Lier. This avoids the double curve and the station, at Lier itself, where four lines converge. The alignment shown is indicative only – it would pass Lier and join the line east of Lier, but there is no specific point it must pass.

….

From Lier to Aarschot the new line would run alongside the existing Line 16 (1864). At Aarschot, the old line turns south to the station. The lines here were not originally built for west-to-east traffic. The connecting curve, for trains from Lier toward Hasselt, was added later. The new by-pass would have the same function, but on a better alignment, approximately indicated below. A tunnel here is inevitable, because of the dispersed housing north of Aarschot. (Low-density lintbebouwing or ribbon development is characteristic of Flanders).

….

East of Aarschot the new line would again follow the old alignment, Line 35 (1865). Approaching Diest, the old line has a double curve (S-curve) and another just before the station. A by-pass to the north would avoid the curves and the station, again the alignment shown is indicative only.

East of Diest, the new line would again follow Line 35, which runs in a straight line to Hasselt. (The by-passes at Aarschot and Diest would also be useful for the heavy freight traffic on this route, but only if an additional track was built).

High-speed line Antwerpen – Hasselt

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