BELGIUM: Public consultation is expected to begin shortly on the proposal to develop a third metro route in Brussels, following approval of the scheme by the federal government.

Detailed engineering design for the fully-automated Bordet – Albert line, now designated M3, has been underway since the project was adopted by the Brussels Capital Region in March 2015.

M3 is to be created by converting the existing north-south premetro tram tunnel between Brussels Nord and Albert via Brussels Midi and a building a 4·4 km northern extension from Brussels Nord to Bordet through the Schaerbeek district with seven stations. Currently served by tram route 55, this part of the city is predicted to see a substantial increase in population by 2040.

Public transport operator STIB estimates the total cost of the project, including new rolling stock at around €1·6bn. Of this, 52% is to be contributed by Beliris, the federal government’s investment fund for the capital. Another €450m is to be made available in €50m annual grants under a separate agreement between the federal and regional governments, leaving the region to fund the remainder.

Under last year’s agreement, Beliris is due to take responsibility for building the extension, while STIB and the Brussels Capital Region will oversee the conversion of the premetro.

Following the public consultation, a formal application for planning consent is to be lodged in 2017, with a view to starting construction in 2019. This would see the completed line opening for revenue service in 2025. According to STIB, trains would operate every 3 min, offering an end-to-end journey time of around 20 min.