October 05, 2015

HSL South concrete study raises quality fears

Written by  Quintus Vosman
  • Print
  • Email
HSL South concrete study raises quality fears Quintus Vosman

A STUDY commissioned by Dutch infrastructure manager Prorail has found that the quality of concrete used on some parts of the HSL South high-speed line between Amsterdam and the Belgian border may be of inferior quality and the technical life of some structures could be considerably shorter than originally envisaged.

Of the six major structures evaluated by engineers, only one is reported to meet minimum quality requirements for concrete. It is feared that more structures could be affected along the 147km line, which is equipped with slab track along its entire length.

According to the report, the envisaged 100-year lifespan of some concrete structures could be reduced to 40 years and in cases where they are directly exposed to inclement weather as little as 20 years.

Secretary of state for infrastructure Mrs Wilma Mansveld told parliament that she has instructed Prorail to conduct lifecycle cost analysis and further investigation into concrete quality along the entire length of the line to establish the true extent of the problem. However, this process could take up to two years to complete.

In addition, there are fears that poor quality or unsuitable concrete could have been used in the construction of the Betuweroute freight line between the port of Rotterdam and the German border near Emmerich. A study is now underway focussing on key structures including the Sophia Tunnel at Zwijndrecht and the underpass at Barendrecht which is shared with HSL South and the conventional Rotterdam - Dordrecht line.

Guarantees on most of the structures on HSL South are believed to have expired, although warranties could still be valid at some locations. The Ministry of Infrastructure is evaluating its legal position in order to establish the next steps.
These problems could be another setback for Prorail, which is currently facing a €475m shortfall in its capital budget for 2018-2028.

Get the latest rail news

IRJ Rail Brief newsletter covers global railway news