At the end of 2024, 32 instead of 16 intercity trains will run daily between Brussels and the Netherlands. Dutch railway company NS and its Belgian counterpart NMBS/SNCB report this.
New, faster trains, with a maximum speed of 200 kph, will be used. They’ll stop less often, making the journey between Brussels and Amsterdam in about 2 hours, 45 minutes faster than in the current timetable.
This will provide an alternative to Thalys (from October, Eurostar), which already operates high-speed trains between Brussels-South and Amsterdam Central.
Two types of IC trains
There will be two types of IC trains, with space for 413 passengers each time, between the Netherlands and Belgium from December 2024. Half of the 32 trains will depart from the Amsterdam Zuid station rather than from Amsterdam Central as at present.
According to the NS, this is beneficial because Amsterdam South is closer to the high-speed line than Amsterdam Central. Stops are planned at Schiphol, Rotterdam, and Antwerp Central.
The remaining 16 IC trains to Brussels will depart from Rotterdam Central in 2025 with intermediate stops where they stop now, namely Breda, Noorderkempen, Antwerp Central, Antwerp-Berchem, Mechelen, Brussels Airport, Brussels North, and Brussels Central.
As a result, there is no change in travel time, although travelers to Schiphol or Amsterdam will have to change trains in this case.
47 daily trains between the two countries
So in the new timetable, Brussels Airport and other smaller stops of the current train lose their direct connection to Amsterdam. According to NS, the travel time with a change in Rotterdam will remain comparable to that of the current connection, however. The exact timetable and ticket prices are still to be worked out by NS and NMBS.
NS, which, unlike its Belgian counterpart, is not a shareholder of Thalys, and NMBS/SCNB already launched a high-speed connection between Amsterdam and Brussels in late 2012, but it was quickly scrapped. The Italian Fyra trains were found to have major technical defects.
Brussels was the main international destination for NS in the first half of the year, with almost 40 000 tickets sold monthly. Together with Thalys, 47 trains will soon run daily between the Netherlands and Brussels.
More international destinations from Brussels
In the Netherlands, the new timetable is part of preliminary agreements between NS and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. This so-called concession for the main rail network will start in 2025.
The number of international destinations from Brussels is growing rapidly, says NMBS/SNCB. Some 40 high-speed trains and up to 40 classic trains depart daily from Brussels to a foreign destination. So, from December 2024, another 16 classic trains will be added.
Besides more connections to the Netherlands, there are also plans to launch a new rail link between Brussels and Paris. A feasibility study is ongoing.