Belgium’s third oldest railway station: Ronse

Ronse_station_sign

In search for Belgium‘s third oldest in-use railway station, Danny and I went to Ronse / Renaix, a facility municipality in the province of East Flanders.

After a short tour of Oudenaarde, we took a train to Ronse, the next stop on rail line 86. Between Oudenaarde and Ronse there’s the Tunnel van Louise-Marie or Spichtenbergtunnel. Louise-Marie of Orléans was the first consort Queen of the Belgians.

The Spichtenberg is a 105 meter-high hill. The tunnel was dug in 1857-1861, sabotaged in 1918 and again in 1944. It is said to have served as hide-out for Hermann Göring and ‘housed’ Adolf Hitler in the night of 22 to 23 December 1940.

Line 86 is a diesel line, as the tunnel is too low for electricity lines. Hence the use of Gec Alstom Transporte Barcelona MW41 (AR41).

Third oldest

Point of interest – for us – in Ronse is the railway station. Designed in 1941 by Auguste Payen, it was built in 1844 for Bruges. In 1879 it was moved brick by brick to Ronse.

But! But builders made a capital mistake. They mistook back and front so the station is rebuilt backwards. Trackside should be streetside. (Not) only in Belgium.

Ronse_station_street

According to Wikipedia, Ronse railway station is one of the oldest still in use in Europe.

The oldest in Belgium are Tienen (Tirlemont) in Limburg and Braine-le-Comte (‘s-Gravenbrakel) in Walloon Brabant. Both were inaugurated in 1840-1841. Sources differ.

I was in Braine recently but the station building is hidden behind canvas for restoration works.

Ronse_station_01

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