New techniques with bitumen for the new high-speed rail line in France
By Agnès Villautreix, published on June 28th, 2017, modified on December 14th, 2017
Six hundred trucks of 25 tons: that is the amount of bitumen supplied by Total for the construction of a section of the new high-speed rail line Bretagne-Pays de Loire (France). The 105 km section was completed in June 2015. The 15,000 tons of bitumen delivered were produced in two of our refineries: Donges (Azalt standard bitumen) and Gonfreville (Aqualt bitumen for emulsions*).
But above all, this gigantic project confirmed the extension of bitumen uses to railroad construction. For this new line SNCF Réseau, the network operator of the French state railroad, had decided to use the technique of the sub-ballast bituminous gravel layer. The purpose of this sub-layer? In certain sections, it can reduce the overall cost of construction and maintenance while at the same time facilitating the execution of subsequent work operations.
The technique of the sub-ballast bituminous gravel layer in railroad construction, which had never gone beyond the experimental stage up to then, indeed represented a small revolution. It is now officially approved by the SNCF and is being used to a growing extent in other projects such as the Nîmes-Montpellier bypass and the LGV Sud Europe Atlantique high-speed railway. This opened new perspectives for bitumen in the construction of both high-speed and conventional railroad tracks.
The railway is now operational. I was proud to visit this section in Laval in May 2015, assisted by Marco DUFOUR who took a series of photos which you can see below.