Work started on Schiphol tunnel

We have started working on the largescale renovation of the Schiphol railway tunnel. The first shovel figuratively went into the ground on 13 November. Under contract to ProRail and in close coordination with stakeholders, the Strukton Volker Schiphol (SVS) combination, together with suppliers, is preparing the Schiphol tunnel railway infrastructure for the next forty years. Aside from the tunnel we are also working on the tracks between Riekerpolder, Schiphol and the Hoofddorp train yard. It is a largescale job that in total will take six years to complete and that will also require multiple train-free periods. The first such period runs from 13 to 28 November 2022.

Multiple train-free periods

The tracks in the Schiphol railway tunnel have become outdated and are due for renewal. To complete work of this nature requires multiple train-free periods and 39 such periods have been scheduled up to 2028. Train passengers and other stakeholders will be elaborately informed about every train-free period.

What will happen?

We are going to renovate the tracks and sleepers in both tunnel tubes. We will also tackle train safety. The tracks along the platforms will be raised so that train floor height will be level with the platform’s height. In the oldest tunnel tube we are going to remove the smoke-absorbing wall and ceiling plates.

Special working method

The smoke-absorbing wall and ceiling plates in the oldest tunnel tube are affixed using adhesive that contains asbestos fibres and ProRail intends to remove this adhesive. The Subcontractor, Vlasman, has devoted a great deal of time and energy together with us to develop a special method of work for this purpose so as to safeguard the safety of personnel and passengers. In the future the overhead lines will therefore be mounted on a new and clean ceiling.

More than 100,000 passengers daily

You cannot work on the tracks when the trains are running. There are a few years between the initial idea and the realisation of the works. ProRail, together with carriers, normally determines when work can be carried out, but at Schiphol the process is a bit more complicated. Schiphol Station is one of the busiest railway stations in the Netherlands, with more than 100,000 passengers per day and more than 52 trains per hour.

At the start of the project it therefore quickly became clear that to properly carry out the work requires the cooperation of all involved parties at an early stage, including the Dutch National Railways (NS), Schiphol, passenger associations and contractors. This made smart planning possible and will keep inconvenience during this major overhaul to a minimum within a responsible budget. In cooperation with all of these parties, ProRail consistently focused on creating the least possible inconvenience for passengers.

Outside vacation periods

Normally speaking, railway work is as much as possible planned to be carried out during vacation periods. But at Schiphol these are the busiest times of the year. The largescale renovation work on the Schiphol railway tunnel will therefore only be carried out during the first three and last three months of the year. This way the work is scheduled outside vacation periods so that the airport as much as possible continues to be accessible to passengers.

Construction combination

The SVS construction combination consists of Strukton Rail and VolkerRail. Both railway companies hold a 50% stake in the combination. De Wilde, as subcontractor, has been contracted for the project as specialist in embedded block rail track systems. Various other subcontractors include Aveco De Bondt, Strukton Milieutechniek, Antea Group and Nexus Rail.

note:  this article is based on a news item from ProRail

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