In 2018, works started on a new railway line in the port of Rotterdam called Theemswegtracé. It would become a 4 km long elevated railway viaduct to solve the increasing traffic bottleneck of the port. Now, three years later, the project has been successfully delivered, a perfect opportunity to look back on a challenging project, characterised by great teamwork.
4 km long railway viaduct
The Theemswegtracé is a four-kilometre long elevated railway viaduct, including two metal arch bridges, that replaces the old railway line. That old railway line ran over the Caland Bridge, a vertical lift bridge that had to open multiple times a day for freight ships to sail through and thus interrupting train traffic. Thanks to the new line, trains are no longer hindered, which leads to a better accessibility of the port of Rotterdam to the European hinterland. On top of that, time is saved, CO2 emissions are reduced and capacity is increased.
The project was awarded by the Port of Rotterdam to the SaVe consortium, consisting of BESIX, Mobilis, Dura Vermeer, Hollandia and Iemants. Works began in 2018 and were finished in October 2021. On Monday 8th of November, the railway was put into use and the first freight train drove over the new tracks, marking the end of the project.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
The Theemswegtracé is located right in the middle of the port of Rotterdam, an environment that is in constant motion day and night. Especially in terms of planning the works, this posed a number of challenges. Not only did the surrounding companies have to be accessible at all times, the partners also had to take into account the different sorts of traffic coming together, such as train, car and maritime traffic. Coordination with all stakeholders, e.g. ProRail, Rijkswaterstraat, the Harbour Master and lock keepers, was thus key. Apart from the many stakeholders, the partners also had the challenge of building over and near a complex network of underground cables and pipelines. However, thanks to the good relationship between the partners, as well as with the client, works went very well and the project was successfully delivered on time.
Of course, COVID-19 also tried to throw a spanner in the works. Just before the first arched bridge was planned to be brought in its final position, which was one of the biggest technical highlights of the project, the crisis broke out. This resulted in great uncertainties and up until one week, it wasn’t sure if the operation could go through. However, thanks to the flexibility of all the teams, everything went well and works remained on schedule, again thanks to great teamwork of the partners.
Dieter Behaeghel, Project Manager at BESIX NL: “We are very proud of the Theemswegtracé and had a pleasure working together with both the partners of the SaVe consortium, as well as with the client Port of Rotterdam. Together, we formed a great team and despite the outbreak of the corona virus, we managed to successfully bring this project to an end. We look forward to working together again in the future!”