The route crosses difficult terrain and required four pre-cast concrete
viaducts carried on V-shaped piers, of which the longest is 1.3km. The
line also includes a mainly bored tunnel between Vaux-sous-Chèvremont
and Soumagne, which at 6.5km is the longest railway tunnel in Belgium.
The route then crosses the Hammer viaduct, which was reconstructed as
part of this project, before crossing the German border and running
through the 711m Busch tunnel to Aachen over tracks upgraded for
160km/h running. Trains change between left and right-hand running near
The new line will be used exclusively by international high-speed
services. Three German Rail (DB) ICE services started operating on the
new line in June and the line will also be used by six
Paris-Brussels-Cologne Thalys services from December. Journey times
between Brussels and Cologne have been reduced by 19min to 1h 57min,
and the Liège - Cologne journey time has been cut by 22min to 1h 1min.
The infrastructure was completed last year, but opening was been
delayed until communication compatibility with Alstom's Atlas ETCS
Level 2 had been achieved.
The centrepiece of the line is a new steel, glass and concrete station
at Liège Guillemins, which has been designed by Mr Santiago Calatrava
and is will open in September. Its five platforms serve nine tracks and
are covered by a glass and steel dome 170m long and 35m high. The
platforms of the old station were too narrow and curved and will be
demolished when the new station opens.