Strépy-Thieu boat lift

It took twenty years to build this exceptional infrastructure which for many years was the world's biggest boat lift: 110 metres high, 135 metres long and 75 metres wide.

It replaces the four old lifts on the Canal du Centre and two locks, i.e. a total height difference of 73.15 metres. Its two 112 x 12 metre caissons can hold the heaviest of boats.

Since 2002, traffic on the Strépy-Thieu funicular lift has increased from about 30,000 tonnes per month to 200,000 tonnes per month. Given the fact that a 1,350 tonne barge is the equivalent of 90 lorries, this greatly relieves traffic on Wallonia’s motorways.

2,11 million tonnes of goods passed through the Strépy-Thieu boat lift in 2021

The Canal du Centre

The construction work on the Canal du Centre involved building a new waterway which is now open to boats with a displacement of up to 1,350 tonnes.

This construction was necessary because the original canal had become too small to meet the needs of the region’s industrial activities.

Inaugurated in 2002, the Canal du Centre stretches 27 km from Mons to Seneffe. It has become a real navigational intersection in the Sambre and Meuse valley and integrates into the European inland waterway network by allowing the heaviest boats to go from the Meuse basin to the Escaut basin.

The Houdeng-Aimeries canal bridge

This infrastructure enables the Canal du Centre to pass through the valley of Thiriau du Sart, and the crossroad between N55 (Le Roeulx – Binche) and N535 (La Louvière) near the motorway interchange.

Key figures

  • Length of structure : 498 m
  • Width at top : 46 m
  • Water mass : 80.000 tonnes

The Blanc Pain safety gate

The Blanc Pain safety gate was built between 2001 and 2003. Located upstream from all the linking structures, it closes the canal if necessary.

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