Strukton Rail – On the Right Track
Strukton Rail, using its century-long expertise in rail system construction & renewal, is committed to making rail transport ready for the future – safe, sustainable, available.
As part of a larger Strukton Rail BV group, one of the largest rail contractors in Europe headquartered in the Netherlands with branches in Denmark, Sweden and Italy, Strukton Rail Belgium is one of the principal rail contractors in Belgium. Thanks to the Group’s knowledge and experience in heavily used rail networks, the company is also in Belgium set to build and maintain future-proof rail networks.
“We are a reliable partner for the construction, maintenance and renewal of tracks, crane rails, signalling and catenary,” says company CEO Ms Dominique Vleminckx, pointing out that the combination of several rail divisions within the company makes Strukton more or less a one-stop-shop to accommodate a wide spectrum of clients’ needs.
“Apart from our three main railroad activities, i.e. track, signalling and catenary, we are also renowned for our in-house, extensive geomatics engineering department. In addition, over the last two years, we have increased our profile as a fibre optic project specialist.
Innovative focus is another strength – last year, Strukton developed a measuring robot that can be operated remotely in order to measure crane rails safely, accurately, and efficiently.
“High quality and innovation are in our DNA, and therefore, we are competing in the more technical and complex tender projects.”
Unshaken by the unprecedented market developments of the last few years, the company has been busy: as Strukton’s main customers in Belgium, the public companies Infrabel and TUC Rail, that build, operate and maintain the Belgian rail infrastructure for the Belgian government, decided to outsource projects requiring the deployment of the contractor’s large renewal machines, Strukton Rail seized the opportunity and won the majority of these tenders, already having completed some of the projects.
Strukton’s previous track record includes highly important railway projects such as the construction of the first high-speed railway line in Belgium between Antwerp and the French border and the installation of railway structures in the Diabolo tunnel complex leading to Brussels Airport.
More recently, Strukton Rail took the lead in the deduplication of an important part of railroad line L50A, which is the main axe in Belgium, linking the Belgian coast to the capital. The company is also one of the leading contractors in the construction of the Regional Express Network around Brussels, intended to reinforce public transport around the capital, & is considered one of the most important current projects of public transport in Belgium.
Ms Vleminckx says that as a Class 8 contractor, Strukton focuses on major projects, which are fundamental for the maintenance and expansion of the Belgian rail network. “All of our projects are important and it is not really fair to name just a few. Generally speaking, as a result of our expertise and capability, we tend to engage in large, complex projects, many of which are of national importance.”
Builder of Sustainable Infrastructure
As the railway sector was recognised as essential during the pandemic, Strukton Rail continued to work over the last two years, and, unlike other traditional construction companies, was able to limit the damage. Spreading the operations across several countries within the Group also helps to balance turnover fluctuations resulting from the fact that the company funds depend directly on the government’s budgets.
However, as with any company in Europe these days, Strukton has not been spared the issues of the technical skills shortage – a challenge that has been handled. “Not only finding the right people but also retaining them is very important for the business – to this end, we have internships and staff development programmes in place to develop committed employees,” says Ms Vleminckx.
“I always say to my managers “the people make a company”. There would be no company, no projects without people. It is very important to keep employees happy and motivated, as well as recognised for the work they do, at weekend, and at night. Making sure we are regarded as a good and attractive employer is very important to us.”
The focus on technological innovation, coupled with the rail being promoted as the green mode of transport of the future helps to enhance Strukton’s reputation and position as a forward-thinking company.
Contributing to the Modal Shift
Speaking about the future she affirms that Strukton Rail monitors market development closely and is committed to expansions that fit within its business, while not losing sight of safety and quality – key aspects in the sector and fundamental for both staff and the rail system.
Right now, the company has been working on acquiring certification for machine transport – a new area of business in Belgium for Strukton Rail.
“A first expansion will be the transport by rail of rail-related machines and materials in the context of large railway projects. We are committed to achieving our recognition as a rail transport company. This should enable us, as the only rail contractor in Belgium, to be responsible for our own rail-related transports.”
“In this way, we can transport our fleet of machines more smoothly and economically throughout Europe, and achieve higher deployability of our fleet across the different borders. In the long run, we want to offer our services to our competitors and attract new customers.”
“In the coming years, we will also focus on sustainability and wish to use the so-called ‘CO2 performance ladder’ to put our ‘green’ stamp’ on the Belgian rail market. Rail transport is the greenest transport system. Battery-powered machines, lower CO2 emissions, and fleet electrification are all topics for the coming months and years. The modal shift, which is to be achieved by 2030, is a major challenge for Belgium. As a rail contractor, we want and must contribute to this,” reflects Ms Vleminckx.