A barge plies the Dortmund-Ems Canal in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (Dietmar Rabich/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Barging in: Consortium appointed for massive new canal in France

6 December 2019 | By GCR Staff | 3 Comments

A massive civil engineering project to dig a 107km canal that will take lorries off the road in France has taken a step forward with the appointment of a consortium led by French engineer Egis as comprehensive programme manager.

Years in planning, and provisionally costed at €5.1bn, the Seine-Nord Europe Canal will run from Compiègne, north of Paris, northward to Aubencheul-au-Bac, connecting the Seine and Oise basins with the northern European high-capacity waterway network (photograph shows a canal in Germany).

Fifty-four metres wide and 4.5m deep, the canal is intended to shift freight from road to water, thus relieving the clogged A1 motorway that runs parallel to it.

Egis said one high-capacity barge can carry up to 4,400 tonnes of goods, a load that would require 220 lorries. 

The company is lead contractor in the One consortium, which includes Ingérop, ISL, SBE, MDP et NEY & Partners.

Their job is to provide engineering, procurement and construction management for the two main stretches of the canal, numbers 2 and 4, which are 48km and 38km in length, respectively.

Associated infrastructure includes 61 road and rail bridges, six locks and seven quays.

The project, which involves digging 55 million cubic metres of earth and waterproofing 4.5 million sq m of canal floor and walls, is expected to take nine years.

Engineers face “significant challenges in their project management to control costs, meet deadlines and coordinate all the different forms of expertise and engineering trades”, Egis said.

More than 60 experts from the various companies will be assigned from project kick-off, and will work out of two project headquarters: one in Compiègne and the other in Lille.

Egis said project will be required to meet high building information modeling (BIM) standards.

Image: A barge plies the Dortmund-Ems Canal in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (Dietmar Rabich/CC BY-SA 4.0