I beg your pardon?
How does a lock work? How many tons can a barge carry? How old is the captain? Everything you've ever wanted to know about the canal, without knowing who to ask. You’ll find it here!
Even on the waterway, sailors need to follow speed limitations. These speeds depend on the type of vessel and also vary according to the waterway. On the Brussels-Scheldt canal, for example, the maximum speed is between 8 and 20 km/h.
And just like on the road, these speed limitations do serve a purpose. Excessive speeding on the waterway creates waves that could damage quays, riverbanks or other boats. Slower sailing is also more sustainable, more economical and safer for all waterway users.
A dock is a place where the waterway is wider, allowing ships to load and unload their cargo and store their goods in the areas alongside the waterway. To make the best possible use of this land in an urban environment, we therefore try to form clusters wherever possible.
For example, a sand and gravel supplier is located next to a concrete works, resulting in greater efficiency in the way the land is used.
The names of the docks were not chosen at random. Almost all the names refer to former governors of the Province of Brabant in former times, each of whom was also Chair of the Board of Directors of the port. That is how Emile Béco and Auguste Vergote gave their names to docks that can be seen today. 😉
Do you have any questions about the port and its activities? Write them in the comments!
It is a bit shallower than that, and it is not the same depth everywhere. From the outer port in the north to the Van Praet Bridge, the canal reaches its deepest point of 5.8 metres. In the Vergote Dock and Béco Dock the canal is about 4 metres deep. Throughout the rest of the canal it is up to 2.5 metres deep.
These depths allow vessels to move in and out of the capital without difficulty.
Before you go in to test out the depth for yourself, we must repeat that swimming in the canal is strictly forbidden. Stagnant water contains a lot more sludge, making it much cloudier and a lot more difficult to see hazards. The risks of sudden drowning are therefore higher than in other watercourses such as rivers.
If you are looking to freshen up, we can warmly recommend the Flow outdoor swimming pool near the Biestebroek dock 😉
We can tell you everything you need to know!
Fishing is regulated at the regional level, and according to the police regulations governing the port, it is in principle prohibited everywhere on the canal. Fishing zones are, however, marked at specific locations in the canal, at places where you can come to fish safely. So you can’t just cast into the canal anywhere you like. First of all you will need a fishing permit. These are available from your nearest post office.
Of course there are some places where fishing is allowed. The fishing areas in the canal are located between Anderlecht lock and Drogenbos (not within 100 m of the locks), and between the Van Praet bridge and the Vilvoorde bridge. You can fish in the canal for roach, carp, pike, tench and eels.
Magnet fishing is popular right now, but it is forbidden in the canal because of the many safety risks. That is because you might not just bring up some old iron; you could find more dangerous items such as weapons or shells.
So let's keep the canal safe!
For more information about fishing in Brussels, visit De visvangst | Leefmilieu Brussel
A port is nothing without its ships. How often do they arrive in our port, and when do they come?
The ships that pass through the Port of Brussels do not operate on a fixed timetable. They are chartered by various different companies that are active in the port, based on their needs and logistical flows. Some ships simply pass through Brussels without stopping. That is called transit traffic.
Some 20 or 30 ships visit our port every day.
The European trend towards inland navigation vessels with increasingly large capacities means that more cargo can be transported on fewer ships. Those ships are getting bigger, but that is not a problem for our outer harbour. It has a very good capacity for an inland navigation port.
If you are heading for Charleroi, however, the situation is different. On that route the size of the locks means that the size of the ships is also limited to the European standard: 80 metres long with a maximum capacity of 1350 tonnes. That is still quite large, equivalent to the capacity of dozens of trucks. So inland navigation offers immediate benefits in terms of both the environment and our quality of life!
Do you have any questions about our port? Let us know!
We can reassure you that this is completely normal!
The water in the canal takes on a brown colour after periods of heavy rain. The canal has an important role as a storm basin, to prevent flooding. When there has been heavy rain of the kind that we saw in Brussels last week, the surplus water is diverted from the city’s drains to the canal to prevent flooding in the streets. So this is a combination of waste water and rainwater.
Since a large amount of waste water and rainwater has suddenly entered the canal, the water quality is also temporarily less good.
The brown colour should fade away in the coming days, as the particles suspended in the water are carried away downstream.
So that’s one more mystery solved. 😉
Do you have any questions about our port? Let us know in the comments!
In 2020 building materials were traditionally at the top of the list of goods. That was despite building sites having to close during the first lockdown. Oil products come second, with containers in third place.
No less than 4.9 million tonnes of goods passed through the port in 2020.
As a local resident, you come into contact with these every day. For example, the cereals used to make your bread and the petrol in your car are transported by water 😉
You probably know that the Port of Brussels is Belgium’s second largest inland port, but did you also know how large the port is?
There are approximately 200 customers located within the port, and they all need space and infrastructure to carry out their activities.
The total area of the Port of Brussels covers 107 hectares, with 6.5 km of quays along the waterway as it crosses the Brussels Region over 14 km from north to south. You can fit 214 football fields into 107 hectares!
The Port also includes 80 hectares of water, and the left and right banks have a combined length of 28 km.
If you are in the port and forget which way is north, so you are not sure which is the left and which is the right bank, the same principle applies as with rivers: when you look towards the sea the left bank will be on your left-hand side 😉
Just like regular traffic lights, these lights at our different bridges and locks help to manage water traffic.
The rules are very similar to those used for road traffic: green means go, while red means stop.
As you can see on this photo, only pigeons are exempt from following these rules 😉
When you think of the port, you might not immediately picture a railway. Nevertheless, railways play an important part in the work of our port!
Water and rail transport are the two most environmentally friendly modes of transport, and they are vital for bringing supplies into Brussels.
The former steam train at the Pont des Armateurs/Redersbrug is the perfect symbol of this. The historic train was installed in 2011 to mark the 175th anniversary of the railways in Belgium. This train was still running in the Brussels port area as late as 1969!
So why is it in that exact place?
The reason is that the Allée Verte/Groendreef is only a few metres away. In 1835, that was the starting point for the very first passenger train on the European mainland, when it left Brussels to Mechelen line.
The water, the railway and the road. In the port they all come together.
When you hear Buda, you probably spontaneously think about Budapest, Hungary’s capital. And you would be right!
In the 17th century, the siege of Buda put an end to 150 years of Ottoman rule in Hungary. This event sparked festivities all around Europe, stretching as far as our regions.
The name of the district of Brussels called Buda probably comes from a 17th century farmhouse near the present bridge, which was given the name Buda to celebrate the end of the siege of Buda. You may also know Buda as the old city that is now the upper town of the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
So the name of this beautiful bridge is a legacy of this old Brussels’ district.
The port always feels a bit like travelling 😉
During periods of heavy rainfall, rainwater flows into the river Zenne and the drainage system. Once these reach their maximum capacity, however, the excess water flows into the canal. At those times the canal acts as a storm basin, the largest one in Brussels. That basin is the reason why the Grand’Place/Grote Markt is not regularly flooded.
You may have seen that the water in the canal sometimes looks brown when it has been raining. That is because the water from the river Zenne and the drainage system bring branches, plastic, sand etc. along with it. To cope with all this waste, our cleaning teams carry out frequent patrols in our two cleaning boats and three waste traps have been installed. That is how we keep the canal clean.
Shipping does, of course, still need to pass through at times when there is not much rainfall. The canal is designed so that it is supplied from bodies of water higher up, according to the principle that water flows downhill. The most important sources of water for the canal in Brussels are the river Sambre/Samber, the Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure and the former basins alongside the river Zenne. When conditions are very dry for a very long time, that is not enough. Pumps have therefore been installed on the locks, to ensure that shipping can keep moving even during dry periods.
The importance of the canal for the capital should not be underestimated!
The TIR centre (TIR stands for Transport International Routier) was built in the 1950s by a company called Naamloze Vennootschap Zeekanaal en Haveninrichtingen van Brussel, the forerunner of the Port of Brussels.
The complex covers several storeys, with a total floor area of about 160,000 m2.
The TIR centre is the second generation of warehouses, suitable for the logistics activities of the 1950s to the 1980s, in the age of the truck. The site was in fact partly built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, and the architecture is therefore quite typical of that period.
Now we have moved on a long way from the age of the truck and these storage facilities no longer meet the requirements of modern logistics, with goods needing to be stored at greater heights. The complex is, however, still ideally situated close to the city centre, and it still plays a major role in meeting the city’s logistics needs. The site is also connected to the waterway via a platform in the Vergote Dock. That makes it possible to transfer palletised goods from the water to the road.
Of course we are also looking to the future. We are currently carrying out a large-scale study to decide how to repurpose this centre and adapt it to meet the challenges of tomorrow's city and tomorrow’s port. We are therefore focusing on improving the way urban distribution is organised, to make it more respectful of the city’s neighbourhoods and residents.
Dredging means removing the sediments that accumulate over time on the floor of the waterway (in our case, the canal). The sediment accumulates more or less naturally and in Brussels it is also a result of the canal’s role as a storm basin, absorbing the overflow diverted from the drainage system.
Dredging is done using a ... dredger. This is a type of boat that is specially designed for this work.
So why is it necessary to dredge waterways? If we did not do this, the sediment would gradually reduce the depth of the water. That would mean that boats would no longer be able to use it. In Brussels, about 40,000 m3 of dredging sludge has to be removed every year. We organise dredging campaigns in different parts of the port every year, wherever it is necessary.
After it has been removed, the dredging sludge is stored in barges and then cleaned. In many cases it is then used again: even dredging sludge forms part of a circular economy!
A lock on a canal is based on the principle that water flows from a high level to a lower level. Modern, efficient locks are needed to bridge differences between water levels.
A lock consists of a lock chamber and two lock heads, with a lock gate in each one. The water level in the chamber adapts to the water level either upstream or downstream, allowing ships within the lock chamber to be raised or lowered.
In the Brussels Capital Region we have two locks that are managed by the Port, in Molenbeek and Anderlecht. Each one is equipped with electric-hydraulic systems to open the gates, which are operated by our lock keepers. This allows traffic on our inland waterways to flow smoothly!
Do you have any questions about our port? Let us know in the comments!