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    Royal inauguration of tramway line 9

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The new Brussels tramway line 9, connecting Simonis and Arbre Ballon stations in fifteen minutes, passing through the UZ Brussels hospital site, was inaugurated Saturday afternoon, in the presence in particular of King Philippe and the Brussels government minister-president Rudi Vervoort. Following his arrival at 3 pm at the Simonis Station, the King drove the tramway that cut the ribbon with the Belgian colors. The first tracks were laid in September 2015. The whole project cost 76 million euros, financed by the Region, plus 20 million paid by Beliris. At its final stage, the line will be prolonged as far as the Roi Baudouin Station, thus serving the Heysel plateau.

    “Our tramway network, which will soon celebrate its 150 years, continues to grow, and now counts 18 tramway lines,’’ underlined Brieux de Meuûs, CEO of STIB. “The tramway has always had a strong identity bond with Brussels. This new fast tramway line illustrates the city’s development lever that public transport represents.’’

    The tracks are equipped with a reduction system of vibration nuisance. The line will be served by Stib’s most modern trams, with low floors and air conditioning. Tramway 9 will operate on its own site, on grass, throughout its 4-kilometer route, that is ten stops. If 181 trees had to be cut down during the construction, 240 were planted along the whole route, which represents a gain of 59 trees.

    The tramway will run every six minutes during rush hour, every 10 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes in the evening and on weekends. The route of the adjacent bus lines (13, 14, 15, 53 and 84) will be modified. “This is the first time since long ago that a new tramway line is created in Brussels,’’ noted the Brussels minister for transport, Pascal Smet. “This achievement is a true example for the future. We have improved the public space, created a new fast liaison connected to the metro, and built a parking lot. All within 3 years.’’

    Arbre Ballon Avenue and Place du Miroir have been renovated, the latter having been equipped with an underground parking lot of 199 places on three levels. Pedestrian and cyclist spaces have been widened and protected.

    King Philippe used a tramway to go to the inauguration of the renovated Reine Astrid Square, where festivities with concerts, shows and a ball remained in full swing until 11 pm. He wanted to meet the workers of the construction site, as well as the residents and shop owners.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times