Last of the Interurbans #5 – Europe’s Coastal Interurban – The 68 km. De Lijn Tramway, Connecting Small Belgium Coastal Towns

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1 kusttram

The De Lijn or Coastal Tram offers a an unique journey, with the North Sea on one side and large tracts of open country on the other, offers a true interurban journey, connecting Belgium coastal towns from the French to Dutch boarders. The largest city the Coastal Tram passes through is Oostende, population 70,000 with a population density of only 1830 persons per/km², based on a city size of 37.72 km²! With much of the trams journeys between towns with open country on one side and the sea on the other, the De Lijn tramway should put and end to any debate here, that the proposed Fraser Valley Interurban doesn’t have the population density to support it to operate successfully.

The Belgian Coast Tram is a public transport service connecting the cities and towns between De Panne near the French border and Knokke-Heist near the Dutch border. It is the longest tram line in the world, as well as one of the few interurban tramways in the world to remain in operation. The line is built at metre gauge and fully electrified at 600 V d.c..

The service makes 70 stops along the 68 km long line, with a tram running every ten minutes during the peak summer months, during which it is used by over 3 million passengers. The service has recently been made more accessible through the addition of low-floor centre sections to existing vehicles, and the introduction of some new HermeLijn low-floor trams.

Most of the trams have a driving position only at one end and access doors on one side. Thus they have to be turned on a loop (Dutch:keerlus) in order to reverse direction. The newer ones are conventionally laid out with two driving positions and doors on both sides.

An interesting feature is the two alternative routes that exist around either end of the Leopoldkanaal locks just east of Zeebrugge, and the similar single track diversion around the inland end of the Boudewijnkanaal lock. This avoids delays to the tram schedule when the road bridge that the tram line normally follows is raised for boats passing under it. A similar feature exists at the southern end of Oostende station around the lock entrance to the Vlotdok.

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