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Key project data

The EU project Blue Links is a scheme aiming at the re-opening to navigation of the Deûle–Escaut link.
The scheme will require 3 years of works to be completed (2005-2008).

37 million Euros are needed for its completion and funded as follows:

  • 50% by Europe,
  • 50% by a Franco-Belgian partnership. 

Consequently, thanks to a large scale restoration scheme and to the participation and mobilisation of Europe, Voies Navigables de France, the Lille Metropolitan Council, the Wallonian Ministry of Public Works, the Water Agency and the Conseil Général,
the Blue Links project:

  • aims at the re-opening of the canal to pleasure navigation by 2008,
  • integrates the objectives of the « trame verte » of the Lille metropolis,
  • regenerates an extended urban area and a post-industrial space in full reconversion.

> see the clipping file (Artois-Picardie Water Agency 09-2005)

The Deûle - Escaut link

Of a total length of 28 kilometres, the transboarder Deûle-Escaut link includes, in the North region of France, the canalised Marque and the Roubaix canal and on the Belgian side, the Espierre canal in the Hainaut and the Western Flanders regions.
It links 11 towns and villages from Marquette to Espierres-Helchin, passing by Marcq-en-Baroeul, Wasquehal, Croix, Tourcoing, Roubaix, Wattrelos, Leers, and, in Belgium, Estaimpuis and Pecq.

See the maps

The canal reaches a summit level at 33,90 metres thanks to 7 locks on the Deûle side and 8 on the Escaut side.
13 out of the 15 locks will be restored as well as 11 fixed or movable bridges. The banks will be strengthened and the towpaths redone. 250 000 cubic metre of sediments are to be disposed and recycled.

Industrial, urban and rural landscapes follow one another along the canal. The cruise takes slightly more than 2 days.

Class of the canal

The class retained for the restoration works is that of the original canal, i.e. boats dimensions: 38.50x5.05m, maximum draught: 1.80m and air draught 3.70m.

However, budget and space restrictions for the disposal of the sediments led to a draught reduction to 1.60m.

The effective depth of the canal will vary from 1.90 to 2.20m. In case of a peak load of the traffic on the canal, and as a result repeated locking through cycles, the shorter pounds must be deeper than the long ones in order not to disturb the traffic. The summit level pound will also be 2.20m deep and will serve as an important reserve of water with its 3 260m long complemented by the 1 220m of the Tourcoing branch.

Project partners

Lille Metropolitan Council

Voies Navigables de France

Wallonian Ministry of Public Works

Site of Région Nord-Pas de Calais

Nord-Pas de Calais Regional Council

North Général Council

Préfecture du Nord-Pas de Calais

Artois-Picardie Water Agency

Who does what ?

> Voies navigables de France
VNF is in charge of the restoration of the locks, the bank protection, the dredging and disposal of the sediments, water supply of the canal and the management centre (lock operation and water supply).
> Lille Metropolitan Council (LMCU)
Second investor after VNF, LMCU is in charge of paths and plantings, the lagooning, the re-building and restoration of footbridges, the restoration to full operation of the movables bridges.
>The Wallonian Region, through the Wallonian Ministry of Public Works, will deal with all the works in Belgium.
> Conseil Régional
As competent for waterway tourism matters, the Région is in charge of the development of boating facilities.
> Conseil Général
The "département" deals with the refurbishment of the bridges of Grimonpont in Leers and Blanc Sceau in Tourcoing.

International partnership

Several nations are partners of the project.
The funding is secured by 10 entities, almost 50% of which by the EU (ERDF Objective 2 et Interreg IIIB).

Breakdown of the funding




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Site managed by Lille Metropolitan Council for the project partners:
Voies Navigables de France, Wallonian Ministry of Public Works, Nord-Pas de Calais Conseil Régional, Conseil Général du Nord, Préfecture du Nord-Pas de Calais and Artois-Picardie Water Agency