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Train Travel in Belgium
Popular Train Routes in Belgium
Train Providers in Belgium


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Train Travel in Belgium

Train travel in Belgium is both easy and popular since its regional system is extensive and offers connections between most cities around the country. There are really only a few villages in the Ardennes that are somewhat more tricky to reach by Belgian train network, though these are still well-connected by TEC bus services. Located in the heart of Northern Europe, Belgium makes for an ideal base for exploring neighbouring capitals like London, Paris and Amsterdam, all of which are accessible within 3 hours of travelling by Eurostar trains or SNCB.

Trains in Belgium

There are high-speed trains, mostly serviced by Thalys, InterCityExpress (ICE), Eurostar, Eurocity, and TGV. Some of the most popular routes for visitors using high-speed trains in Belgium are the London to Brussels route with Eurostar, the Amsterdam to Brussels route with Thalys, and the Paris to Brussels route using TGV. Belgium also has regional and intercity trains, which are serviced by NMBS/SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges). A few noteworthy routes using these regional trains are from Brussels to Bruges, and from Ghent to Antwerp. The trains in Belgium also connect travellers between the main cities and the airport. The Flemish region of the country has a few trains with two floors, which allow passengers to have an enhanced "sight-seeing" experience while travelling by train. Using the Omio app, you will find it easy and convenient to book their journey while navigating between trains by having all your tickets purchased and saved on a mobile device.

Train companies in Belgium

There are several train companies in Belgium that you may want to get acquainted with prior to travelling. In regards to the regional and intercity trains, services by NMBS/SNCB, you will have various trains to choose from. The InterCity (IC) trains usually run between the larger cities of Belgium (Brussels, Liège, and Antwerp) as well as to certain cities in neighbouring countries, such as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France. The InterRegio trains travel into the main cities of Belgium from regional destinations. Lastly, the Brussels Airport Express train runs from the airport to some of the main cities in the country (Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent). There are five options for major high-speed trains. Travellers can take the EuroCity (EC) which runs from Luxembourg/Strasbourg/Basel to Brussels, the Eurostar which runs between London and Brussels, the ICE which runs from Cologne/Frankfurt to Brussels, the Thalys which runs from Amsterdam/Paris to Brussels, and the TGV which also runs from Paris/Marseille into Brussels. In between all these routes, trains may stop in other cities within Belgium as well, travellers are encouraged to check the route if they wish to visit smaller regional cities.

Popular Train Journeys in Belgium

The major traffic hubs for Belgian trains are Brussels-South which is the capital’s largest station, Brussels Central, Belgium’s busiest station and Gent-Sint-Pieters, the main railway station in Ghent. The Ghent-Brussels route is one of the country’s busiest domestic routes, along with connections to Leuven and Antwerp Central. There are also a number of popular international routes from Brussels-South on to Paris, Amsterdam, London and Cologne.

Popular International Routes by Train

Travellers wishing to visit cities in Belgium from other countries in Europe will find that Omio is a useful and convenient tool to make their planning process smoother. Here are two of the main cities in Belgium and how to get there by train:

  • Antwerp: travellers that wish to visit Antwerp will find that the city is well connected to a few major capitals of Europe. For example, the Eurostar departing from London St. Pancras International station will arrive at Brussels Midi station, where travellers may switch to a regional IC train that will take them straight to Antwerp. Meanwhile, travellers coming from Rotterdam or Amsterdam will find direct IC trains that will take them straight to Antwerp. Lastly, the high-speed Thalys train provides a direct route between Paris and Antwerp.
  • Brussels: The capital of Belgium is directly connected with several of the major cities in Europe, such as Luxembourg city (using EuroCity), London (using Eurostar), Cologne and Frankfurt (using ICE), Amsterdam (using Thalys), and Paris (using TGV). travellers that wish to arrive in any other city in Belgium will most likely have to make a connection in Brussels.

When arriving

When travellers decide to visit Belgium, they should be aware of the following information in order to facilitate their trip. Belgium is a country made up of many languages, therefore depending on where the traveller is located, the primary language that is spoken and visible on street signs/directions will vary accordingly. The north side of Belgium is predominantly Flemish-speaking, which is a language similar to Dutch. The southern side of the country is typically French-speaking. There's also a minor area on the eastern part of Belgium that speaks primarily German. Therefore, it is suggested that travellers figure out the primary language spoken in the area they decide to visit, prior to their departure. Nonetheless, English is also widely spoken in Belgium, therefore travellers should not have a problem communicating with locals.

Popular Train Routes in Belgium

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Trains London to Brussels
Trenitalia
Trains Paris to Brussels
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Trains Cologne to Brussels
Flixbus
Trains Brussels to Bruges
ryanair
Trains Ghent to Antwerp

 

Train Companies and Train Types in Belgium

The NMBS/SNCB - Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen (NMBS) in Dutch or the Société nationale des chemins de fer belges (SNCB) in French - is Belgium’s national operator, providing an extensive service across Belgium and connecting Brussels with France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany via high-speed trains. The NMBS/SNCB is an autonomous government company which was formed in the 1920s as a successor to the Belgian State Railways, though this situation is likely to change in 2019 when European rail should be open to competition.

Belgium’s rail network consists of 4 main types of trains. The InterCity (IC) trains are the fastest services, linking the larger cities such as Brussels, Liege and Antwerp. The InterRegio (IR) trains serve medium-sized train stations and connect regional cities like Antwerp and Brussels. There are also peak-hour (P) commuter trains. Eurostar, Thalys, ICE and TGV International operate high-speed services on to nearby European destinations.