Renovated Wiedauwkaai bridge: smoother traffic flow and more efficient operation

Wiedauwkaai bridge

The Wiedauwkaai bridge is a railway swing bridge in the Muide area of Ghent. Railway line 58 runs over the bridge (2 tracks). The Wiedauwkaai bridge is a vital link for the rail connection between Ghent-Dampoort and Eeklo, via Wondelgem. Freight trains also use this swing bridge to connect between Ghent and Zelzate, Terneuzen and the Kluizen dock.

Modernization necessary for smoother flow of traffic

Infrabel, the infrastructure manager of the Wiedauwkaai bridge, decided to replace the original 1924 swing bridge in 2004 with a new model, bringing it in line with modern technological standards. This was necessary, not only for smoother traffic flow in the South Port area of Ghent, but also to increase the train speed limit from 40 to 80 kph. In addition, Infrabel wanted to modernize the bridge, making it faster and more efficient, to increase its reliability and to make it more accessible for road traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. The temporary trade association – Agidens Infra Automation-Victor Buyck Steel Construction – won the contract from Infrabel. Agidens was responsible for the electromechanical equipment and the project management; Victor Buyck for the steel structure. Sub-contractors were employed for the hydraulics, the concrete work, the reconstruction of the railway and the mechanical renovation of the carousel.

More efficient operation and higher reliability

The renovated bridge had to be able to open on request and so Agidens provided a semi-automatic remote control The movement time of the bridge also needed to be made shorter in order to disrupt traffic on the main road as little as possible. A faultless operation of the bridge was an absolute necessity for Infrabel. To meet this requirement, Agidens provided a comprehensive fault diagnostic system to trace and correct errors quickly in the event of a problem. All PLC controls and other setups are also redundant so that the operation of the bridge is guaranteed to be as reliable as possible.

Extensive off-site testing to limit obstruction

One of the main requirements of the client was to limit on-site activity because of the heavy impact on various modes of transport. Agidens Infra Automation took the following measures to rise to this challenge:

  • Preliminary simulation to test the bridge movement and to educate operators
  • Full test setup off site (!) including FAT
  • 3D modelling of the existing foundation and the new superstructure
  • Extensive topographic sampling campaigns for the track work and the concrete structure

The bridge was a listed monument, so the original design had to be maintained. The bridge is therefore assembled with rivets, using original methods, and the bluestone foundation has been restored using traditional methods.

Limited implementation and start-up phase

The final on-site renovation was less than a week, therefore disruption to traffic was limited. This was possible thanks to detailed planning, excellent organisation and a faultless partnership between all parties involved. The bridge was transported from the workplace to its final destination and it was put into place via a floating pontoon. The duration of the implementation phase was kept to an absolute minimum and was a compromise between technical feasibility and safety. During the start-up phase, Agidens completed the following operations:

  • Connecting the cables between the operating building and the bridge
  • Strong current and weak current of the installation
  • Integration with the Infrabel signalling system: Inserting signalling into the controls and complete testing
  • Retesting and securing all safety components
  • Putting the engine into operation
  • Testing of signage such as road and maritime signals and barriers
  • Performing the first rotation on-site
  • Finishing the SAT (Site Acceptance Test)
  • Lifecycle management after completion