‘Three-country train’ Liège-Maastricht-Aachen starts in June

The long-announced ‘three-country train’ Liège-Maastricht-Aachen will start running in the border region between Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany from June 9th.

The Maastricht-Aachen section has been active since 2019. However, Belgium could not yet be served due to making the trains of carrier Arriva suitable for the different security systems used in the three countries.

“I am pleased that the carriers involved, Arriva, NS, and NMBS/SNCB, indicate that this train service will be introduced on the railways on June 9th, 2024,” says Dutch State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen. “This means that the transfer in Maastricht to and from Liège will soon be part of the past tense.”

ETCS safety system

Arriva, a German railway company Deutsche Bahn subsidiary, announces that the European railway agency ERA has approved the trains that will run on the connection. This happened after they were equipped with the latest European safety system, the European Train Control System (ETCS), a kind of cruise control for trains that has been mandatory in Belgium since 2014.

The long-announced ‘three-country train’ in Belgium will have stops in Liège-Guillemins, Bressoux, and Wezet. In the Netherlands, in addition to Maastricht, there are also stops in Heerlen and Valkenburg, among others.


Arriva, NS, and NMBS/SNCB partnership

The ‘three-country train’ is part of the public transport concession in the Dutch province of Limburg, awarded to Arriva. For the route between Maastricht and Liège, the transport company collaborates with the Belgian railway company NMBS/SNCB and the Dutch NS. For example, the train between Belgium and the Netherlands will have a train driver and train conductor from NMBS/SNCB on board.

NMBS/SNCB now has its local train between Liège and Maastricht. This will be stopped once the ‘three-country train’ is on the tracks.

Initially, there was also talk of an express tram connection between Hasselt and Maastricht for years. Still, the Flemish government shelved the almost 18-year-old plans for a tram connection between the two Limburg capitals in 2022.


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