BELGIUM: The new Marconi tram depot and maintenance facility in the southern Brussels district of Uccle was formally inaugurated on April 27 by the Minister of Mobility for the Brussels Capital Region Pascal Smet, STIB Chairman Thomas Ryckalts and CEO Brieuc de Meeûs.

Financed by the Capital Region, the €80m depot will house the vehicles operating premetro route 4 and tram routes 32, 82, 92 and 97. With a total area of 27 000 m², the 14-track covered stabling depot can accommodate 75 trams; the adjacent servicing area with capacity for 10 vehicles provides facilities for exterior washing, internal cleaning and maintenance, including wheel reprofiling. Including the administrative building, the depot will accommodate 170 employees.

The environmentally-sustainable depot has been developed as part of the European Tramstore 21 project, as a collaboration between the tram operators in Brussels, Blackpool, Dijon and Rotterdam with co-financing from the EFRO-fund. Each operator has developed a new depot with an eye to integration into the local environment.

The Marconi depot was built using the UK-developed BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) principles which encourage the use of sustainable and recyclable materials; it has been certified as ‘very good’. The slatted depot walls are made from Forest Stewardship Council-approved Padouk wood. Rainwater collection and treatment provides around 80% of the water used for vehicle washing, while the depot heating and hot water supplies are provided via a heat pump. Other sustainability elements include 600 solar panels and LED lighting.

To protect the environment from noise and vibrations an anti-vibration mat has been installed under the entrance on the south side of the depot, while a 140 m anti-vibration barrier separates the servicing area from neighbouring premises.

Following the opening of its new tram workshops at Haren in 2009, STIB has been working on a new depot strategy to reduce empty running; a further depot in the northern part of the city is now under development, and a new metro depot at Erasme in the southwest will open in 2019.

Meanwhile, STIB is on course to extend route 9 to Jette later this year, while a short extension of route 94 north of Woluwe is also nearing completion.