25 Jun 2015
Engineering and consulting firms setec and Royal HaskoningDHV have been selected by VNF - the French navigable waterways authority - to jointly provide programme  management assistance over 12 years for a canal link extending from France to Belgium.

Canal Seine - Nord | Royal HaskoningDHV
The vast new Canal Seine-Nord Europe will connect the basin of the Seine near Paris, to the Scheldt, near Lille, giving access to Belgian and Dutch inland waterways networks.

Long awaited by the international water transport sector and the European Union, the new canal will be designed for vessels up to 4,400 tonnes capacity. It will eliminate a major bottleneck on the European waterway network and provide links with six seaports to offer an alternative method of transporting freight with access into the heart of large urban areas. 

The improved reliability and reduced logistics costs of inland water transport will raise the competitiveness of industry. The canal taps into the waterway’s potential for water transfer and tourism, and contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gases and consumption of non-renewable energy. 

The canal will be 107 kilometres long, 54 metres wide, 4.5 metres deep and include six locks, three channel bridges, new infrastructure and 55 million cubic metres of dry earth works. 

setec and Royal HaskoningDHV will jointly provide their expertise in managing complex infrastructure projects, including river projects on an international scale. setec will bring extensive experience and expertise in programme management of large infrastructure projects in France. Royal HaskoningDHV will provide extensive experience and expertise in inland waterways, in addition to supporting setec with the overall programme management, and with design of canals, locks and aqueducts. The European operator Via Donau of Austria will act as a sub-consultant to the joint venture and support the team with in-depth expertise in management and operation of river infrastructure.

Work is scheduled to begin in June 2015 for an opening in 2025, with a follow-up of the exploitation phase to 2027. The team members will operate from a common office with VNF in the coming weeks to begin planning for the demanding schedule.

Trans-European Multi-Modal Corridors

The Canal Seine-Nord Europe project was identified by the European Union in early 2014 as one of five major projects of the Trans-European Multi-Modal Corridors, marking an unprecedented commitment in terms of infrastructure. The canal investment is part of more than €20 billion budgeted for 2014-2020, compared with €8 billion during 2007-2013. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed the launch of the canal implementation in September 2014.

setec Executive Vice President, Pierre Lescaut, said:
“setec is proud to have worked alongside VNF for more than 10 years, supporting the successive phases of development of this important project, long-awaited by stakeholders. Through its in-depth knowledge of the project needs, setec was able to identify and put in place an expert team for this 12-year programme management mission. The joint venture between setec and Royal HaskoningDHV constitutes the core of this formidable team.”

Director of Maritime & Waterways at Royal HaskoningDHV, Simon Harries, said: 
“Royal HaskoningDHV is pleased to have been selected for this project, which will provide a much needed logistical link between north-western and central Europe, relieving congestion on the European waterway network. This joint venture is about providing a sustainable solution to a modern transport challenge, and will combine Royal HaskoningDHV’s world-leading maritime and waterways experience, with setec’s excellence in projects and project management.”

Press release VNF

Click here to read the VNF press release (French) about the setec/Royal HaskoningDHV project which is worth a minimum of €80 million.

Interview IHS Maritime

Speaking to IHS Maritime, Royal HaskoningDHV spokesman Ben Reeskamp described the Seine-Nord Europe Canal as, "an incredible project with major integral design challenges - technical and environment issues, stakeholder interactions and much more. Click here to read the full story.