The die is cast: the so-called ‘three-country train’ will finally be welcome on Belgian territory. As of December, the train will connect three countries: every hour, a train will run between Liège (Belgium), Maastricht (the Netherlands), and Aachen (Germany).
The plans for the three-country train – a Dutch initiative – go back to 2016, when the province of Dutch Limburg laid the foundation of cross-bordering trains.
In 2018, Arriva, the company that manages public transport in Dutch Limburg, was ready to operate a train connection between the three countries, but at that time, Belgium hesitated.
The Belgian national rail, NMBS/SNCB, had questions about the train’s feasibility, manufacturability, and desirability. Moreover, the Arriva trains were neither equipped with the European safety system ETCS.
In the meantime, the trains have the ETCS aboard, the trains have been tested on Belgian rains, and the three parties involved (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, NMBS/SNCB, and Arriva) have confirmed that it is technically and financially feasible to run the train.
The ‘maiden trip’ is planned for December 10th, and from then on, trains will run every hour between Liège, Maastricht, Heerlen, and Aachen. In addition, trains from Maastricht will run twice an hour to Aachen and Herzogenrath.
‘European rail integration’
“Travelers will now get more destinations, comfort, and fully accessible trains across national borders. This project is an example of European rail integration,” said Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo).
The three-country train is particularly interesting for travelers from Dutch Limburg because they will have smooth connections with the high-speed rail network in both Liège and Aachen to cities like Brussels, Paris, London, Cologne, Frankfurt, and Berlin. The train could, therefore, be an alternative to short air travel.
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