Annie Cordy Tunnel

Sustainable lighting solution to maximise energy savings and optimise safety for motorists

The Annie Cordy Tunnel, formerly known as the Leopold II Tunnel, is the longest road tunnel in Belgium. The 2.6km link is a major traffic artery, providing the main entrance to the capital city for commuters from the north and west of the country, with 80,000 vehicles passing through every day. The tunnel was opened in 1986 and despite renovations in the 2000s, was beginning to fall into disrepair.

Consequently, Brussels Mobility launched a major renovation project including structural repairs, the reconstruction of the roadway, the construction of technical premises, waterproofing, ventilation and asbestos removal to meet the highest quality and safety standards. All the equipment also had to be replaced, including the lighting.

The new lighting had very clear objectives: 

  • optimise energy consumption with LED lighting and a control system;
  • reduce maintenance costs by 50%;
  • improve user comfort and safety.




Contracting authority: Brussels Mobility
Project management: Engie
Engineering consultants: EGIS + BG
Tunnel control system: Phoenix Contact + Schréder
Installation contractors: Equans + VSE - ENGIE Fabricom



Perfect light distribution to optimise comfort and safety

Thanks to our solid experience in tunnel lighting worldwide, we were able to rely on our wide range of lighting solutions to achieve the objectives. Based on the NBN L18-003 standard, which specifies the photometric requirements for lighting tunnels and underpasses for motorised traffic, we proposed the FV32 LED luminaire for the main tunnel lighting. This luminaire, equipped with the LensoFlex®2 photometric engine and offering a wide range of photometric distributions, offers a level of luminance and uniformity that fully complies with the standards and the specifications of Brussels Mobility. In addition, the LED lighting offers excellent colour rendering, enabling drivers to quickly identify any obstacles.

To further improve safety in the tunnel, Brussels Mobility had decided to add 17 additional emergency exits. All of these exits are lit by ILUM MARK. This robust linear recessed luminaire provides a visual aid to guide people, which is particularly useful in an emergency.

Controlling the light for maximum flexibility

To guarantee a luminance level that meets the driver’s needs in real-time to ensure their safety, the luminaires are controlled by the Advanced Tunnel Control System (ATS), which was co-developed by Schréder and Phoenix Contact. Depending on the time of day or night, the traffic density or the level of natural daylight, the system can adjust the light levels of the luminaires. The ATS system is connected to Brussels Capital Region’s centralised tunnel management system. This enables them to monitor and adapt the lighting instantly, for example, according to traffic density or possible incidents.

In normal operating mode, the lighting has been programmed with scenarios chosen by the customer. Three scenarios have been set-up:

  • from 6am to 8pm: 100%
  • from 8pm to 12am: 60%
  • from 12am to 6am: 33%. 

Adapting the light at entrances and exits for complete safety

The tunnel entrances and exits are particularly critical zones due to the contrast with natural daylight. It is important that drivers do not experience the black hole effect when entering or the white light phenomenon when exiting a tunnel. A luminance meter has been installed at each tunnel entrance. Throughout the day, it calculates the amount of light needed for these zones and automatically adjusts the light level. The more daylight there is outside the tunnel, the higher the level of light inside the tunnel will be to enable drivers to quickly adapt to the tunnel environment.

The underpasses leading in and out of the tunnel are lit by SCULPLINE luminaires fitted with neutral white LEDs to provide optimal levels of illuminance on the ground and walls so drivers can enter and exit in complete safety. A neutral white light provides a high luminous efficacy and high colour rendition to ensure high visual comfort for motorists. 

Optimised energy consumption and maintenance guaranteed 

Our highly efficient luminaires direct the light precisely where it is needed and deliver the levels required in the specifications. The new lighting, which is perfectly adapted to the different configurations in the tunnel, generates a 70% reduction in energy consumption.

To guarantee the service life of the tunnel, the renovation operations which finished in February 2022, have been followed by a 25-year maintenance period. Designed to stand the test of time, the FV32 luminaire has a robust design and requires little maintenance. It offers a high level of protection against corrosion, impacts and vibrations and will reduce maintenance costs by 50%.

In addition, the ATS system will automatically detect and report any eventual luminaire failures. It identifies any incidents with extreme precision, simplifying and facilitating maintenance work

An enlightened journey

At the request of Brussels Mobility, SCULPLINE RGBW luminaires were also integrated into the walls of the underpasses. This LED luminaire offers a wide range of dynamic lighting scenarios and great flexibility to create light shows. By creating attractive light features along the tunnel, which let’s not forget is 2.6km long, the lighting enhances the landscape and the journey in what is usually considered a quite dull and monotonous environment.

This project, which started 10 years ago, has enabled us to give the customer the full scope of our expertise and services. From the lighting designers who carried out the photometrical studies, to the project manager who followed up on the customer’s evolving needs, to the logistics team that supplied the equipment within the given timeframe and the engineering department for the on-site adjustments, the whole team worked together to make this project a success.

The renovation of the Annie Cordy Tunnel is part of a public-private partnership contract, which includes a 25-year maintenance phase when the work finished. As the tunnel closures authorised by the Brussels Region for the BESIX/Jan De Nul/EQUANS consortium were extremely limited, EQUANS chose Schréder for the robustness of their solutions and their excellent quality/price ratio over the duration of the contract, extending, de facto many years of collaboration between Schréder and Brussels Mobility.

Vincent Thibert
Engineer & Director of Civil Engineering Projects - Brussels Mobility