Brussels North again Belgium’s busiest railway station

With more than 60,000 boarding passengers, Brussels-North railway station was again the busiest station in Belgium on weekdays in 2023, a title it had to leave to Brussels-Midi/South a year before.

Brussels-Central, Brussels-Midi, and Ghent-Sint-Pieters followed it. The first Walloon station is Ottignies, followed by Namur. Incidentally, in Wallonia, ticket machines of the public railway company NMBS/SNCB have been sabotaged recently.

Ghent busiest station outside Brussels

In 2023, the number of travelers counted at Belgium’s biggest stations was almost back to the level of 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak. The Brussels-North station, for instance, had an average daily count of 60,499 last year, compared to over 48,000 in 2022.

This again makes Brussels-North the busiest weekday station ahead of Brussels-Central (58,877) and Brussels-Midi (58,344). The first non-Brussels railway station is in fourth place: Ghent-Sint-Pieters, with an average of 48,441 boarding passengers on weekdays.

Then two more stations in Flanders follow – Antwerp-Central (37,591) and Leuven (31,461) – before the first Walloon stations in the list: Ottignies (21,977) and Namur (21,590).

Nine passengers per day in Beignée

Brussels-North is eminently a station for commuters. During weekends, for instance, it receives far fewer passengers. On Saturdays, it only ranks fifth with 20,825 boarding passengers.

Top of the Saturday list is Brussels-Midi, the hub for high-speed trains, with 33,469 passengers, followed by Brussels-Central (26,916), Ghent-Sint-Pieters (25,578), and Antwerp-Central (25,163).

The Hainaut stops Beignée (9) and Hourpes (15) had the fewest passengers per day. On weekdays, the quietest station in Flanders is Aalst-Kerrebroek (East Flanders, 20 passengers per day). Five more Flemish stops have fewer than 50 travelers per day, three of which are in East Flanders.

The passenger counts are carried out every year during a week in October and are still done manually. Automated counting systems exist, but manual counting still offers “the best value for money”, according to NMBS/SNCB.

Sabotage of ticket machines

NMBS/SNCB’s ticket machines have been sabotaged in several Walloon railway stations in the past few days. Since Sunday evening, there have been 21 station sabotages “between Liège and Charleroi”.

According to the NMBS/SNCB, it is probably a “joint and organized sabotage”. There are similarities in the methods used to sabotage the machines. For example, insulation foam and screws were used several times to damage the card readers. There is no trace of the perpetrators yet.

NMBS/SNCB is trying to repair the affected machines as soon as possible. “This channel is used to purchase almost 45% of tickets. The degradation of the machines, therefore, has a real impact on users,” NMBS/SNCB says.

Starting on March 1st, opening hours will change in almost all Belgian train stations with ticket offices. No ticket office will remain completely closed, but opening hours will be shortened in all but four of the 91 stations with ticket offices.


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