Publié le 01/07/2016 - Mis à jour le 01/07/2016
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Works under way at the Creil station: replacement of 35 railway switches

In the heart of France’s Picardy region, SNCF Réseau launched a programme to replace 35 railways switches at the Creil station, a crucial nexus in service between Paris, Amiens and Compiègne and to destinations like Beauvais and Pontoise. Replacement works should last until the end of the year. The project will not only improve passenger comfort, but also boost the workload at SNCF’s Moulin-Neuf manufacturing yard in Chambly, where the new railways switches are being pre-assembled.


4 april - 13 may 2016

Preliminary works and installation of safety equipment.

14 may - 9 october 2016

Replacement of railway switches. To minimise disruptions to rail traffic, works are being carried out over 10 “high-impact” weekends. For each operation, SNCF makes alternative routes and substitute means of transportation available.

10 october - 16 december 2016

Finishing works.

A vital network link

Every day, several hundred regional TER, commuter and 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 works began in the spring of 2016 and involve 35 of these switches:

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

In all, the Creil project will be replacing more than 3 kilometres of track.

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 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 32 switches in 2016 and 31 in 2017
  • Elimination of 3 switches
  • Renewal of more than 3 km of track
  • Installation of two new switches

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

This track renewal project is being financed entirely by SNCF Réseau. It will involve a total of 63 switches between 2016 and 2017, at a total cost of 30 million euros.

The new switches being installed in the station are pre-assembled at SNCF’s Moulin-Neuf yard in Chambly (France). The Creil project is thus a source of more economic livelihood for this yard and required discussions among the various stakeholders prior to the launch of the project.

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.