You work day in, day out with various entities within ENGIE on better mobility solutions and safer public transport. Can you explain what you do?
‘In effect, we work within ENGIE on a better environment. The customer used to take a more fragmented view of things. Now, there are fewer niches, new markets, a new approach and greater synergies. The customer is also aware of this; if the high-voltage cables in an underground train shaft need to be updated, it is probably easier to ask the same Group to renew the ventilation shafts, or carry out maintenance on the signals. This is interesting for the end user because we can work more smoothly and the underground trains can be back in action more quickly. ENGIE Fabricom usually functions as the umbrella organisation and makes the initial contact for these complex projects. First, we assess which partners within the Group are relevant for tackling these all-in projects. This usually includes ENGIE Axima, for cooling or ventilation, and ENGIE Cofely for maintenance. We also have a good reputation as an engineering consultancy; that company is called Tractebel ENGIE.’
ENGIE Fabricom has been the trusted partner of the Brussels Metro network for 40 years. Is your extensive expertise appreciated?
‘We have been in Brussels since the start. Back in the day, there were two completely separate worlds; the tram ran above-ground, the metro underground. Each had their own executive team. Now, the customer considers issues from the perspective of one mobility solution and expects us to do the same. We are involved in all aspects of the Brussels Metro network, from the maintenance and renovation of the existing network, including the installation of fibre-optic cables, through updating transformers, to building completely new stations.'
Train, tram, metro, bus… ENGIE is everywhere. Are large, complex projects your speciality?
‘Mobility often ties in with radical, major projects such as the Noorderlijn project in Antwerp. Under this heading, we are updating the tram, premetro and roads infrastructure between the north of Antwerp and the city centre. Both literally and metaphorically, we sometimes have to face an intersection of conflicting interests from the city and private individuals. You also have to add to the equation the fact that all the mobility parties, i.e. the tram, bus, premetro and road transport, have to be guided carefully and safely over this intersection too. Finally, we must also keep an eye out for cyclists and other, more vulnerable road users. It's an incredibly complex challenge.’
You are committed to safe transport. How do you realise this in practice?
‘Thanks to us, the metro in the Brussels Region can use SafeNet, which has now been fully rolled-out. SafeNet is a new safety communication network designed for the future automatic metro.
Train traffic is also safer at the European level thanks to the ETCS Level 2 signalling system. ENGIE is ensuring that Belgium is one of the first countries where the safety system is fitted in the push for safer, quicker and more harmonised rail traffic in Europe. 786 km of railways will be fitted with the new systems, and 1,717 signals and 3,572 beacons will be installed.'