RER/DEM in Wallonia not completed before 2031
The construction of the Belgian Regional train (RER/DEM), originally planned to be completed by 2002, is still ongoing. The three lines connecting Brussels to Ghent, Halle, and Leuven are operational, but the two in Wallonia won’t be finished before 2026 and 2031. Infrabel notes that parts of the L161 and L124 have already been brought to four tracks allowing faster trains to overtake slower ones.
Ask any Walloon commuter, and they’ll all say the same thing: “I’ll be retired before the RER/DEM is done”. The running joke might actually be true for some, as the regional train should have entered service back in 2002, but construction is still ongoing on the two lines connecting Brussels to Ottignies (L161) and Nivelles (L124). More than two billion euros have been invested so far, and 950 million euros are still required to finish.
2026 at the earliest
Infrabel’s spokesperson, Frédéric Sacré, notes that, in essence, the regional train (RER/DEM) is already in service but not in Wallonia. Indeed, the three lines in Flanders connecting Brussels to Ghent, Halle, and Leuven are done. While it was paused for some time in the south, construction has restarted on both lines in 2018 and 2019, with most of the work being done at night to disrupt traffic as little as possible.
Infrabel informs that, despite the pandemic, the pre-set timetable is being followed, and work is keeping pace. According to the schedule, the L161 Brussels-Ottignies should be completed in 2026 at the earliest without counting the Ottignies train station’s renovation. For the L124 Brussels-Nivelles, the date is 2031, but construction permits in Rhode-Saint-Genèse/Sint-Genesius-Rode and Linkebeek are still pending.
Next ten years
While the RER/DEM won’t be finished in Wallonia for the next ten years, Infrabel looks at the glass half-full. Talking to the newspaper La Dernière Heure (DH), Frédéric Sacré notes that Infrabel won’t wait until the whole line has been upgraded to four sets of tracks. Once a portion is done, it’s being used to increase the capacity or to let faster trains go by.