Métro Léger Charleroi, ligne Châtelet
THE ABANDONED METRO IN BELGIUM
The Châtelet line of the ‘Métro Léger Charleroi’, was planned in the 1960s as a 52-km light rail network, operating on heavy rail metro infrastructure. There were plans for eight lines and 69 stations radiating from a central loop downtown. Charleroi is the largest city and municipality of Wallonia, the agglomeration has a population of around 500.000 inhabitants, this makes it the fifth largest agglomeration of the country.
In 1974 they started building the lines; however 15 years later, only three lines are in use. The Petria line, a part of the Gilly line, and three-quarters of the loop were actually built and opened to traffic. The high costs of construction, together with a decline in Charleroi’s traditional industries, and questioning of profitability, are all mentioned as reasons for not succeeding the original plan. Here we explored the branch to Châtelet that was fully completed but never placed in service, it is unlikely ever to be opened or completed.
The Châtelet line of the Métro Léger Charleroi is 6,8 kilometers long with 8 stations. Neuville, Chet, Pensee, Centenaire, Champeau, Corbeau, Trieux and last station Châtelet. The first 4 stations are all ready for use, but the costs to maintain a line were too high. The underground station Centenaire, finished in 1985, is the last station were rails and electricity lines are installed. From here starts a long concrete trench filled with garbage, trees and bushes. The last stations are nothing more than concrete structures. The lines are overgrown, it was almost impossible to explore, but we manage to walk to the last station on the line. I visited the ‘Métro Léger Charleroi, ligne Châtelet’ in 2007.