On Tuesday morning, railway manager Infrabel installed a new pedestrian bridge in Ganshoren at and from the last level crossings in the Brussels Capital Region, in Vandervekenstraat. The passerelle was opened in the presence of the municipal council of Ganshoren. The bridge should allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross the railway more easily and safely.
Those who want to cross the tracks via one of the last two level crossings will now be warned by a ‘warning box’. “This safety system, which is being installed for the very first time in Brussels, automatically sounds an audible alarm when a road user wants to cross a closed level crossing,” said Frédéric Petit, spokesperson for Infrabel.
Construction of the pedestrian bridge in Ganshoren started in 2022. The bridge is 35 meters long and three meters wide. A little further on, at the Sint-Agatha-Berchem train station, another passerelle was previously placed to ensure the safety of travelers when crossing the tracks.
“Via both pedestrian bridges, which are several hundred meters apart, cyclists and pedestrians can now safely cross the tracks of the Brussels-Denderleeuw railway line. With their stylish design, both bridges fit harmoniously into their urban environment,” says Petit.
Since 2020, warning boxes have already been set up in Ottignies, Limal, Jambes, Namur and Bertrix in Wallonia. The automatic warning of danger when crossing tracks will soon also be introduced in Flanders.
The system consists of a transmitter and a receiver, and is connected to a solar panel. The system only comes into operation as soon as the level crossing closes. “The transmitter then sends an infrared LED beam to the receiver. If a road user prepares to cross the closed level crossing, the LED beam is interrupted and an alarm goes off for three seconds,” Infrabel explains.
According to Infrabel, accidents still happen too often at level crossings, which is why they must disappear in the long term. “Last year there were eleven fatalities in Belgium when crossing level crossings, 32 accidents. Since 2000, four fatal accidents have occurred here at the level crossings in Ganshoren. Every accident is one too many.”
In August this year, a young pedestrian was hit by a train on Vandervekenstraat. In the future, Infrabel believes that it will be necessary to investigate which level crossings can be replaced by a bridge or tunnel above and below the tracks. “The most ideal level crossing is the level crossing that is not there,” says Petit.