Cointe Tunnel

Smart tunnel lighting solution to enhance safety and streamline costs

The Cointe Tunnel is a key link in the E40-E25 motorway network, providing a north-south motorway link around the city of Liège in Belgium. When it opened in June 2000, it dramatically reduced traffic congestion in the city to the delight of residents.

The tunnel consists of 2 tubes; one for traffic travelling north towards Brussels and one for traffic heading south to the Ardennes and Luxembourg. Each tube has 2 traffic lanes to accommodate the 25 million vehicles that pass through the tunnel each year. 

Schréder had provided the lighting for the tunnel when it opened in 2000, but after 22 years of service life, SOFICO, the Walloon organisation responsible for managing the transport network, decided to replace the lighting as part of a major renovation project to ensure a quality service for many years to come. The new tunnel lighting had to meet the following objectives: 

  • enhance safety and the driving experience for commuters; 
  • reduce energy consumption and operating costs;
  • comply with new European safety regulations, notably Directive 2004/54/EC.

Smart technology for a state-of-the-art tunnel

SOFICO wanted a technological solution that would guarantee performance for the next 20 years and more. It opted for a smart tunnel lighting system with the powerful and energy-efficient TFLEX range of luminaires and the Advanced Tunnel Control System (ATS 4), jointly developed by Schréder and Phoenix Contact.

Optimised safety for a pleasant journey

The Cointe Tunnel, at 1,650m long, is the longest in the E40-E25 motorway network. Over 540 TFLEX LINE luminaires were mounted on the ceiling in a discontinuous line. They provide symmetrical lighting that ensures excellent uniformity on the ground and walls, giving drivers a clear view of their surroundings and any potential obstacles.

The TFLEX LINE luminaires deliver a bright white light that offers excellent colour perception and high visual comfort for a safe and pleasant drive through the tunnel.

Due to the high volume of traffic that passes through the tunnel, TFLEX COMBI and TFLEX MODULE luminaires were installed for the reinforcement lighting. They boost the lighting to avoid the “black hole effect” and ensure an easy and comfortable transition in the critical entrance zone.

The TFLEX BASE was also supplied for the safety lighting throughout the tunnel.



Contracting authority: SPW
Project management: SOFICO
Installation contractor: Genetec



Reduced energy and maintenance costs

The highly efficient TFLEX luminaires are fitted with the latest generation of LEDs to deliver a high-quality light with significantly less energy. The long life of the LEDs combined with the robust design (IP 66 / IK 08) means that despite the harsh tunnel environment, the luminaires will continue to deliver this high performance for many years and will need little maintenance.

Smarter, more sustainable tunnel lighting

The luminaires are controlled by the ATS 4 to guarantee a luminance level that meets the needs of the drivers in real time to ensure their safety. Depending on the time of day or night, the speed of traffic or the amount of natural daylight, the system adjusts the light levels of the luminaires to comply with the Belgian national lighting standard NBN L18-003 and maximise user safety. By adapting the light levels to what is absolutely necessary, the lighting installation consumes even less energy, further reducing costs.

The lighting performance, low maintenance, long life and ease of installation, as well as the whole process of working with the Schréder team, made the project a success. 

Mr. Kevin PETERS - SPW
Kevin Peters
Senior Civil Servant - SPW

Smart control to streamline operations 

The ATS 4 also monitors the power consumption and reports burning hours and any failures. As each luminaire feeds back information to the ATS 4 system, tunnel operators will be able to plan lighting maintenance operations more effectively. The data insights gained from the ATS 4 will enable SOFICO to further streamline operations in the future, saving even more money.

Connected for better tunnel lighting management

The ATS 4 integrates SOFICO's SCADA tunnel management system, which manages the motorway link, so that the lighting system can be managed and monitored 24 hours a day from the control room in the nearby Tilleuls centre. In the event of an accident or other incident, tunnel operators can easily adjust the tunnel lighting to ensure a safe exit for motorists and easy access for emergency services.

Based on an open protocol, the ATS 4 can also interact with other tunnel equipment such as fire detection devices or traffic management systems to programme responsive safety scenarios.

Fast installation and commissioning

The new smart tunnel lighting system was installed in the southbound tube during July and August 2023 as the tunnel tends to experience less traffic during the summer holidays. However, the schedule was tight due to the amount of work required to remove the old fixtures and install the new luminaires and cable trays, which cover the entire length of the tunnel ceiling.

The installation went smoothly thanks to the 'plug and play' luminaires, power and control cables, all fitted with tool-less connectors, which made the process much easier.

As the ATS is an industrial BUS-based system, there was no need to address the luminaires, speeding up the commissioning process and ensuring that the end-August deadline was met.

Smart tunnel lighting technology for the benefit of all

The new smart tunnel lighting ensures a safe and pleasant driving experience for drivers and a smooth flow of traffic for the 80,000 vehicles that pass through every day. Thanks to the high performance of the LED luminaires and the ATS 4 control system, the tunnel will continue to deliver the high-quality experience that users have enjoyed since the tunnel opened with reduced operating costs.

The lighting in the northbound tube will be upgraded in the summer of 2024.