Is it possible, during the construction of the Einstein Telescope in the border region of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, to transport a large amount of soil and materials in a different way than by truck? Could the railway be used in this regard? If so, could the railway junction in Montzen, Wallonia (municipality of Plombières), play a central role?
This is the core of an investigation currently being carried out by the project office Einstein Telescope EMR. The project office is in discussion with the Belgian rail manager Infrabel and the Belgian railway company NMBS. The municipality of Plombières has also been informed about this and is, in principle, not opposed to the idea. The same applies to the Walloon government in Namur. This has created an opportunity to conduct research on this matter. Based on the results, final decisions can then be made.
Caring for the landscape
Project leader Guid Bartholomée: “Naturally, we are working on plans for a construction phase in which we want to cause as little disruption to the environment as possible. We feel obliged to be careful with the landscape and nature. Sustainability also plays a major role in what we are investigating. When it comes to the logistical aspect of that story, you almost automatically consider transportation by rail. In that exploration, the Montzen depot quickly comes into view.”
The train station and the Montzen depot are very lightly used. According to Guid Bartholomée, it is still too early to estimate whether it will be possible to use the Montzen depot for logistics and in what way that could be: “We have had good, constructive discussions with Infrabel and NMBS. They think along in a positive way. But there is still some mapping to be done before we can take the next step.”
The research into logistics, however, does not provide information about the locations for the three corner points of the Einstein Telescope. The locations for those three corner points will be determined after further geological research of the soil, among other things. In 2025/2026, a decision will be made at the European level on where the Einstein Telescope will be built. In addition to the border region of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, the Italian island of Sardinia is also advocating for this. The construction phase is planned from 2028 to 2035.