If all goes well, Train World will operate steam train between Brussels and Mechelen (Malines), reports Gazet van Antwerpen. The service could start in 2020.
The route is historical: in 1835, Belgium introduced trains on the European continent on this route. The last commercial steam train ride in Belgium was in 1966 between Ath (Aat) and Denderleeuw. The last steam locomotive was number 29.013.
This locomotive has been upgraded with the necessary security features to run on the regular Infrabel rail network.
Train World director Piet Jonckers explains the museum is awaiting a dispensation of the obligation to have automatic doors on the coaches. “We need approval of the federal government but obviously this is not a priority for a government in current affairs.”
Jonckers says he would like to have the paperwork done by the Summer of 2020 to celebrate the 185th anniversary of the introduction of trains in Belgium.
One weekend per month
Train World plans to operate the steam train one weekend per month. It would run from Shaarbeek (Schaerbeek) to Mechelen, via a detour to Tubize (Tubeke) back to Brussels.
The ride would be an hour long.The train would go as fast as 60 or 80 kph, even if the maximum speed is 120 to 140 kph.
Train World has been working for four years on this project. There’s no guarantee it will be ready next year.
Wait and see.
Feature image by Nico Spruyt who spotted this steam locomotive at Schaarbeek railway station.