Extensions to the Kusttram are planned by Flemish public transport operator De Lijn. In the west of the region from Koksijde inland to Veurne, and in the east of the region from Zeebrugge to Bruges. For the former this has provided an opportunity for three towns and municipalities on the proposed route, to upgrade their rail stations into multimodal transport interchanges for rail, bus and potentially tram. For the Zeebrugge corridor it offers the opportunity to improve passenger links between the two urban areas, support expansion of the port of Zeebrugge by freeing the existing heavy rail line for more rail freight, support local growth poles in the corridor, and support tourism in the historic city of Bruges by better public transport from the coast and vice versa.
Activities in West Flanders were in two parts. The initial Sintropher project involved technical and economic feasibility studies by De Lijn for a western extension of Kusttram from Koksijde to Veurne, and construction of upgraded interchanges for rail, bus, and potentially tram in Veurne, Koksijde and Diksmuide, in order to improve regional connectivity. This builds on De Lijn’s Neptunus regional transport plan, and offered demonstration projects in Veurne, Koksijde and Diksmuide for good practice in multimodal transport interchanges in smaller stations. Also, an important element of the demonstration projects was to market the new transport interchanges in order to promote local development opportunities and urban regeneration.
The second part, done as part of the Sintropher Plus extension, involved technical and economic feasibility studies by De Lijn on an eastern extension of Kusttram along the Bruges-Zeebrugge corridor; and to demonstrate that closer integration of the proposed transport scheme with regional planning objectives, can help realise wider territorial benefits and enhance the case for investment, going beyond conventional cost-benefit analysis.