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Quévy (Belgium - France)

Quévy at the border Belgium - France is the only switchable Belgian station.

The 90-year-old station building at Quévy, at the end of SNCB Line 96 about 75 km south of Brussels, may seem surprisingly large to anybody who is aware only of its current role as the terminus of an hourly passenger service on weekdays. But of course it originally housed all the officials concerned with cross-border traffic on the former main line to Paris, then operated by the Nord-Belge railway and the French Chemin de Fer du Nord, as well as some of those companies' staff.
general information
Special features
Changes in operation from June 2003

related articles
border lines France - Belgium

map of French network
map of Benelux network

related links
line 96: Brussels-Midi - Quévy

track layout of Quévy
thanks to André Sintzoff and Alan Reekie

By 1963, however, when the French electrification at 25 kV 50 Hz reached the end of the Belgian electrification at 3 kV DC at Quévy, the line had become an integral part of Belgian Railways network (SNCB/NMBS) and these officials' duties were performed aboard the express trains that no longer needed to stop there. Indeed, since the end of 1992 such routine border formalities have been abolished under the Schengen agreement.

Since 1994, when TGVs running via the new high-speed line replaced the day trains hauled by multi-voltage locos between Brussels and Paris, only a couple of passenger trains are still scheduled to cross the border at Quévy - in the middle of the night. But much of the substantial rail freight traffic between Belgium and France still takes this route 24 hours/day. The motive power of almost all these trains was routinely changed at Quévy until the end of 2002, but both the SNCB and SNCB have a growing number of new dual-voltage locos suitable for through operation and staff training on thems has already begun. So the following summary description of the facilities and procedures for performing the transition between the two power supply systems has been prepared. It is based on local observations and is coherent, but should not be relied on as official sources of information have not been consulted.

 General information
The twin-track 'main line' along which trains having motive power equipped for operation with both 3kV DC and 25 kV 50 Hz run non-stop with pantographs down, where the change-over switching is performed by the driver alone, lies between the groups of tracks intended for use when the loco has to be replaced here. Those beside the station building were formerly used by passenger trains, while the others were reserved for freight trains.
specially-adapted points motors

In both cases, the overhead line equipment (OHLE) can be supplied at either voltage as required,under the control of the local signal box (Block 33, located near the centre of platform 1). The OHLE can also be isolated when required, notably so that non-electric motive power (eg diesel locos), can be signalled to run on routes disregarding the transition. The switchgear is actuated by specially-adapted points motors (G3, yellow and G25, blue), located on the southern end of platform 1.

 Special features
As can be seen from the sketch-map of the track layout, each section of track with switchable OHLE terminates at points which can be set to give access to/from either the 'main line' with power at one voltage or a short stub with power at the other voltage. Operation of each set of points, the associated signal displays and the power supply to the switchable OHLE are all interlocked with the track circuits, so that in particular it is impossible to set any route that would allow an electric loco to run onto a section with an unsuitable power supply.

SNCF 15033 is detached no loco SNCB 2741 arriving attachement of SNCB 2741
NZ 236 (Paris - Hamburg) in Quévy; pictures by Andreas Roeschies

In practice, thus, when a train hauled by an electric locomotive appoaches, the signal admitting it into the track with switchable OHLE can be cleared only when the route through to the following stub track has been set, and the appropriate power supply connected. The loco then runs through until it comes to a halt just short of the 'starter' signal. As soon as the loco has been detached from the train, it runs forward into the 'stub' track. The short track circuit between the front of the train and the 'starter' signal then detects that this section is clear, which allows the points and power supply to be changed-over so that the replacement loco (which has been waiting nearby on the main line) can safely run back ready for coupling-up to the train. Once this has been done, the starter signal can be cleared to allow the train to continue its journey along the main line. And when the track circuit detects it has indeed departed, the OHLE power supply and points can be changed back to allow the loco waiting in the stub track to run back onto the appropriate main line (either directly or after passing through the switchable section again).
text by Alan Reekie

SNCB 4101 dans sa totalité Quévy 2000
SNCB DMU 4101 in Quévy
thanks to Michel Marin
SNCF 36029 in Quévy on 22. Nov 2002
SNCF's type 36 3-voltage loco
on 'main line' under 25 kV
thanks to Alan Reekie

 Changes in operation from June 2003
The operation of the railway station at Quévy and local NMBS/SNCB railway personnel are about to undergo some important changes.
As of 15. June 2003 the change of locomotive on cross border freight trains will take place at either Aulnoye or Mons, and not at Quévy. Trains will be worked by SNCF class 36000, which are already active between France and Zeebrugge/Schaarbeek, and SNCF class 67400 diesel locomotives.
By closing down the freight yard and the activities at Quévy, NMBS/SNCB will be able to reduce costs by removing this inefficient operation. Staff will be reallocating to other sites in the area. Another benefit is that the freight trains themselves will become more efficient, as the motive power switch will be done at better locations, more suited to traffic flows and operational needs.
As a direct result of these changes, the equipment, which enables the overhead wire to be switched, will be removed. Instead an automatic system will be installed to enable the BB 36000's to change pantographs and voltages automatically.
with kind permission from International railway circle

top of page page last updated: 26. March 2018 ©1998-2013 Thorsten Büker top of page
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