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New rail bridge Thomassen Tunnel

Hollandia Infra has, as part of the SaVe contractor consortium, built one of the two rail bridges that will form part of the new Theemswegtracé railway line. Totalling 269 metres in length, this steel arch bridge was placed on top of the existing Thomassen Tunnel (A15 motorway). Given that the bridge weighs over 4,100 metric tons and any kind of deformation of the tunnel had to be prevented, this was an extremely precarious operation.

 

About the project

The SaVe consortium of contractors has been commissioned by the Port of Rotterdam Authority to build the substructure for the Theemswegtracé line. SaVe, which stands for ‘Samen Verbinden’ (Connecting Together), is made up of the BESIX, Mobilis, Dura Vermeer, Hollandia, and Iemants construction companies.

By rerouting part of the port railway line, the growing volumes of rail freight traffic will no longer be held up by open bridges for shipping traffic, which will also improve rail traffic flow between the western port area and the hinterland. The contract is an Engineering & Construct contract for the construction of a 4-kilometre-long elevated railway viaduct, including the building of two steel arch bridges (one over the Rozenburg Lock and one above the Thomassen Tunnel). Work started in 2018 and is expected to be completed in late 2020.

Improved rail and shipping traffic flow

The contract is a subproject that is part of the greater Theemswegtracé project. The client, i.e. the Port of Rotterdam Authority, takes care of coordination, design, and implementation of the whole project in conjunction with ProRail, which is the authority in charge of Dutch rail infrastructure. After completion of the project, management of the new stretch of railway will be handed over to ProRail. The investment for the Theemswegtracé as a whole totals approx. €300 million.

Theemswegtracé

The Theemswegtracé railway line will solve a rail network capacity bottleneck that is expected to arise on the back of growth in both rail traffic and shipping traffic from and to the Brittanniëhaven section of the Port of Rotterdam. The new stretch will run along an elevated railway viaduct. It will include two arch bridges and will rejoin the existing railway near the A15 motorway. Rerouting the railway line means that increasing rail traffic will no longer clash with shipping traffic, which will improve traffic flow.

Not without challenges

Building the substructure for the Theemswegtracé line is a project that is not without challenges. Besides the limited time available of approx. 2 years, there is also the complicating factor that the work will be done above and near public infrastructure and vulnerable elements in the surrounding area, such as petrochemical companies and a complex network of cables and pipelines. The consortium will be working within a tight space in a dynamic environment where activity goes on day and night. On top of that, the surrounding companies need to remain fully accessible throughout the project. And finally, there is the logistical challenge of moving the two new steel arch bridges to their respective locations.

The value added by SaVe

The SaVe consortium partners jointly guarantee that they can overcome these challenges. Besides ample logistics experience with large concrete and steel structures, the consortium can also rely on the various partners’ technical know-how and BIM expertise. The fact that Hollandia and Iemants have joined forces means that the two arch bridges can be produced simultaneously. The SaVe consortium’s combined knowledge of and experience with working in complex environments, foundation techniques, and road building further add to the strength of the partnership.

SaVe stands for ‘Samen Verbinden’ (Connecting Together)

Together means that the partners have entered into an integrated partnership with a focus on relationships with the Port of Rotterdam Authority, stakeholders, and the local area. And with this project, the consortium connects the western part of the port area to the hinterland. Our combined expertise guarantees a successful project outcome.’ The SaVe consortium partners have developed a BIM environment called iSaVe especially for this project. Not only does this BIM environment optimise work planning, it also allows us to model temporary structures and critical equipment storage space during the construction work to the tiniest detail. As temporary neighbours to companies with a strict safety regime, the consortium’s top priority is to protect the integral safety of third parties and high-risk elements in the surrounding area.

Bridge above the Thomassen Tunnel

Hollandia Infra’s role in the project is to design (UO), build, and install the bridge that will be positioned above the existing Thomassen Tunnel. The bridge will be 269 metres long and 13.6 metres wide.