The railway delta makes way for a link between east and west

A party for travelers, home seekers, residents and anyone who wants to work close to a station. That is the shortest summary of the amended plan for the rail yard in Maastricht by Jo Coenen and Luc Soete. In this version too, they bring the train underground and thus ensure that the city regains 10 hectares of valuable space.  

Jo Coenen (urban planner, architect) and Luc Soete (economist) respond with remarkable resilience to the criticism their plan ‘Above the Track’ received. The duo did not sulk but used the criticism to look for improvements. They found this by looking more broadly at what they call the ‘railway delta’. By this they mean the almost 10,000 square meter railway scar in the city that is the legacy of 160 years of Maastricht’s railway history.

‘Above the railway’ was the name of the first plan. The adapted version is called ‘Around the tracks’. In reality it is ‘Around the tracks’, because the new plan is immediately written in English. With their adapted plan, Coene and Soete want to show at European level how you can give public transport a new place in older, medium-sized cities in the era of the energy transition.

‘Unjustifiable’

The plan is clear: the space used by the railway in Maastricht is ‘unjustifiable’. Many of the nine tracks are little used or could be moved to a new location outside the city. By laying the necessary tracks in a tunnel, the ground floor between station and Meerssenerweg becomes available. The current bus station can also be improved, which will be moved to a new building on the Wyckerpoort side.

Coenen and Soete believe that such a radical and critical look at the railway is necessary at a time when there is a desperate need for space to build. Their plan makes it possible to connect Wyck, Wyckerpoort and Maartenspoort and Heugemerveld through the construction of homes and linking roads.

Main entrance copied

But Coenen and Soete are absolutely not train haters: they have a keen eye for the quality of the station and its immediate surroundings. This quality consists of an accessible station with two fronts (literally, the main entrance is copied on the Wyckerpoort side), a new entrance on the south side, escalators and elevators to the underground platforms with plenty of daylight and direct access to the new bus station and parking garages. This quality should prepare Maastricht for the regional and international train connections that the city wants to attract.

Unfeasible

In response to a question from the municipality of Maastricht, ProRail (which builds and maintains the rail network) calculated that the first plan could cost as much as 1.4 billion euros. The conclusion was then unfeasible. The adjusted plan with a significantly shorter tunnel has also been calculated on behalf of Coenen and Soete what it will cost. The specialists’ calculators stopped at an amount of 762 million euros. Jo Coenen and Luc Soete point out that the proceeds for society must be deducted from this. A study into the effect of the Delft railway tunnel shows that 40% of the costs are recouped as benefits for society (better living environment, less noise pollution, etc.). Another 76 million euros can be added as proceeds from the building land that becomes available.

The eastern part of the adjusted plan in a bird’s eye view
Aerial view over Wyckerpoort
Railway tunnel entrance at signal box
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