The Belgian rail operator NMBS / SNCB will start new train services between Walloon cities and French cities, including Paris. The launch is due in December 2018.
The trains are set to be ‘classic’ trains. Not high-speed trains with mandatory reservations.
Until 1997 different cities in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, were linked with Paris in France via classic rail routes. Thereafter, the high-speed Thalys linked Paris with Mons, Charleroi and Namur using the ‘Spine of Wallonia‘. Unfortunately this service was stopped in 2015.
Train travellers needed to go north to Brussels or west to Lille in France to catch a Thalys or TGV to the rest of France.
New from December 2018
Starting in December, there will be a train from Namur and Charleroi and another from Mons to Maubeuge and Aulnoye in France. In a first phase, passengers will have to change trains in Maubeuge or Aulnoye and take a French SNCF service to Paris. There will be two return service between those cities per day.
In the the future there will be a direct link to the capital of the French Republic.
From Mons, there will be twice a day a return day to Aulnoye.
In a press release, the SNCB explains it’s a classic train using classic tracks. In the first phase the journey from Charleroi will take 15 minutes longer than travelling via Brussels, but in the next phase the journey time will be shortened dramatically.
From Namur it will take 30 minutes longer in that first phase.