Publié le 01/07/2016 - Mis à jour le 07/04/2017
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Works under way at the Creil station: replacement of 33 railway switches

On 25 March 2017, SNCF Réseau launched the second phase of the programme to modernise the switches in the Creil railway station, which is situated in the very heart of the Picardie region. This station is a strategic crossroads for service between Paris, Amiens and Compiègne, and to destinations like Beauvais and Pontoise. Replacement works are scheduled to be completed on 11 November 2017. The project will improve the comfort of passengers in the Creil station travelling on TER, Intercity and Paris region commuter trains.


6 March - 24 March 2017

Preliminary works and installation of safety equipment. These works also take place during weekday nights before and after each renewal works weekend.

25 March - 27 August 2017

Replacement of railway switches. To minimise disruptions to rail traffic, works are being carried out over 14 “high-impact” weekends. For each operation, SNCF makes alternative routes and substitute means of transportation available.

28 August - 11 November 2017

Finishing works.

A vital network link

Every day, several hundred regional TER, commuter, intercity and freight trains transit via the Creil station tracks. This dense traffic is managed by 83 railway switches – most built in the 1970s.

The renewal works in 2017 will impact 33 of these switches:

  • 30 are being replaced;
  • 3 will be eliminated.

In addition, two new switches will be installed as part of the improvement works for the track plan in the Creil railway station. The cost of this programme is €12 million (financed by the French State and the Hauts-de-France region).
Modernising or removing switches to replace them with a traditional railway track also results in changes to the station’s initial track plan. As a result, the first 6 weekends of the programme will be devoted to the installation of 7 new poles to support the overhead lines.
This programme involves not only the replacement of the switches, but also the modernisation of the railway components (i.e. train track, ballast and sleepers) over 3.6 km of railway line.

The Vigirail programme: enhancing comfort and modernising maintenance

Railway switches allow trains to change from one track to another. The Creil station is equipped with three types of railway switches:

  • Single crossings: allow the train to go from one track to another;
  • Oblique crossings: allow two tracks to cross each other without impeding traffic on either one;
  • Single and double slips: allow two tracks to cross each other in both directions of travel.

Rail yard showing crossings between several different tracks.
Rail yard showing crossings between several different tracks.

The Creil station works are part of the national network maintenance programme Vigirail, which kicked off in various parts of France in October 2013. Programme aims are to improve the safety of switches throughout the network and to modernise network maintenance operations. In all, more than 1,700 switches will be replaced throughout France by 2017.

These works entail complex logistical resources such as the wagon crane, which allows greater flexibility in the field and above all, in terms of practical organisation, shorter interruptions to traffic.

Switch replacement using a wagon crane


Despite the complex logistics, using a wagon crane actually saves time overall while limiting inconvenience to railway users and improving working conditions for work crews.

The operation is a carefully choreographed ballet:

  • The new switch is fully assembled at SNCF’s Moulin-Neuf yard, then transported to location on a trestle wagon.
  • The wagon crane is equipped with a 28-metre-long telescopic arm that removes the old switch and puts it aside until it can be loaded onto the trestle wagon.
  • Earthmoving is done using power shovels.
  • The wagon crane inserts the pre-assembled switch – with millimetric precision.
  • The ballast is put in place over the new switch. The final step is to carefully check the geometry and stability of the new track.

Key figures

  • Replacement of 30 switches in 2017
  • Elimination of 3 switches
  • Renewal of more than 3.6 km of track
  • Installation of 2 new switches as part of the improvement works for the track plan in the Creil railway station. The cost of this programme is €12 million (financed by the French State and the Hauts-de-France region).

A large-scale operation fully funded and prepared by SNCF Réseau

This track renewal project is being financed entirely by SNCF Réseau. 20 million euros will be dedicated to the modernisation of 33 railway switches in 2017.

In all, this will involve modernising 65 switches in the railway station of Creil between 2016 and 2017, at a total cost of 37 million euros.

The new switches being installed in the station are pre-assembled at SNCF’s Moulin-Neuf yard in Chambly (France).

More than a hundred employees mobilised

SNCF Réseau is acting as both as Owner and Engineer for the switch replacement project at the Creil station. As such, it is directing the technical studies, contributing to financing for the operation, managing the safety aspects of the project and coordinating the contractors performing the works.

In all, no fewer than 40 employees of SNCF and 80 employees of contractor companies are working at the Creil station.