June 26 - Engineering and consulting firms setec and Royal HaskoningDHV have been selected by VNF - the French navigable waterways authority - to jointly provide programme management assistance over 12 years for a canal link extending from France to Belgi

The vast new Canal Seine-Nord Europe will connect the basin of the Seine near Paris, to the Scheldt, near Lille, giving access to Belgian and Dutch inland waterways networks.

Long awaited by the international water transport sector and the European Union, the new canal will be designed for vessels up to 4,400 tonnes capacity. It will eliminate a major bottleneck on the European waterway network and provide links with six seaports to offer an alternative method of transporting freight with access into the heart of large urban areas.

The canal will be 107 km long, 54 m wide, 4.5 m deep and include six locks, three channel bridges, new infrastructure and 55 million cu m of dry earth works.

setec and Royal HaskoningDHV will jointly provide their expertise in managing complex infrastructure projects, including river projects on an international scale. setec will bring extensive experience and expertise in programme management of large infrastructure projects in France. Royal HaskoningDHV will provide extensive experience and expertise in inland waterways, in addition to supporting setec with the overall programme management, and with design of canals, locks and aqueducts.

The European operator Via Donau of Austria will act as a sub-consultant to the joint venture and support the team with in-depth expertise in management and operation of river infrastructure.

Work is scheduled to begin in June 2015 for an opening in 2025, with a follow-up of the exploitation phase to 2027.

The Canal Seine-Nord Europe project was identified by the European Union in early 2014 as one of five major projects of the Trans-European Multi-Modal Corridors, marking an unprecedented commitment in terms of infrastructure.