European subsidy for renovation Lillo Bridge

European subsidy for renovation Lillo Bridge

Port of Antwerp-Bruges and Infrabel will receive EUR 23 million from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the renovation of the Lillo Bridge. In September 2023, they appleid for a European subsidy for the renovation of the bridge and renewal of the tracks. Today, the European Commission announced that it will support the project with a grant from the Connecting Europe Facility.

The Lillo Bridge was built in 1967. It is the only bridge over the Canal Dock. It connects the area between the Scheldt and the Canal Dock with the hinterland and is very important for the chemical cluster and the container terminals in that area. The increase in both rail and shipping traffic required the bridge to open and close more and more frequently. This resulted in material fatigue of the steel and balance structures. By the end of 2019, this had progressed to the point where the bridge was decommissioned.

Since then, trains had to detour via line 11 via the Zandvliet-Berendrecht lock complex and around BASF. Not only did this quadruple the distance, but it also caused additional waiting times at the lock complex. Rail transport to this zone became less interesting. The number of trains to and from the zone dropped by about 30 per cent.

With the approval of a European grant for the renovation of the Lillobrug, the European Commission also recognises the strategic importance of the bridge for smooth rail transport in the port area and the wider region. In total, 50% of the renovation costs will be borne by Europe, amounting to about EUR 22.43 million for Port of Antwerp-Bruges and EUR 500,000 for Infrabel.

In the meantime, the process of renovating the Lillo Bridge has already been started: there was a call for candidate contractors in December 2023. The specifications will be further finalised and shared with candidates in the spring. In addition, the application for an environmental and building permit has already been submitted and declared admissible. The works will be completed by the end of 2027 at the latest.

Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the Board of Directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges: “Built in 1967, the Lillo Bridge is the only bridge over the Canal Dock and was of strategic importance for rail transport for our petrochemical cluster and container terminals. Unfortunately, the bridge had to be decommissioned at the end of 2019 due to material fatigue. With the approval of a European grant to renovate this bridge, we as a port can take another step towards more rail transport. And thus make our port as the economic engine of Flanders even more sustainable."
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About Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With an overall throughput of 271 million tonnes per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. The port is a crucial link for the handling of containers, breakbulk and for the throughput of vehicles. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs and generates an added value of 21 billion euros.
The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is clear - to become the world's first port that reconciles economy, people and climate. As well as growing in a sustainable way, the Port also aims to focus on its unique position as a logistics, maritime and industrial centre and to take the lead in the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy. Together with the port community, customers and other partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is actively seeking innovative solutions for a sustainable future. High on the agenda is its responsibility for the environment and the surrounding society. 

The port sites of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are operated by the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority, a limited liability company of public law with the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges as its shareholders. The port employs 1,800 people. Vice-Mayor of Antwerp Annick De Ridder is President of the Board of Directors, the Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw is the Vice-President. Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the port’s day-to-day management.

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to

Port of Antwerp-Bruges
Zaha Hadidplein 1
2030 Antwerp