Arriva is to operate a train service linking Liège in Belgium to Maastricht in the Netherlands and Aachen in Germany from December 2023. The train has been nicknamed Drielandentrein, or Three-Counties Train.
Currently, NMBS / SNCB operates a train service between Liège-Guillemins and Maastricht, but continuing to Aachen (Aken, Aix-la-Chapelle) has been difficult to achieve. Belgian Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) has come to an agreement with Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Affairs Vivianne Heijnen (CDA).
The Three-Countries Train are NMBS / SNCB, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) and Arriva, which is a British company owned by the German Deutsche Bahn (DB).
Gilkinet calls the project a “breakthrough”. “With this Three-Country Train you can travel across borders even more smoothly. This project is an example for European rail integration. The fact that the different operators and policy levels work together so well for this is a real breakthrough.”
“If you live in a border region, it is important that good cross-border public transport ensures that you can work or follow a course throughout the region. But as logical as this sounds, in practice it is a huge job to realize. Trains have to be adapted, timetables have to be aligned, carriers have to work together. Thanks to everyone’s efforts and perseverance, we will ensure that this train can start running,” adds Heijnen.
There are still hurdles and questions. What the ticket fares will be, is not known yet.
The Arriva Stadler FLIRT 3C units have encountered technical issues regarding the beacons when entering Aachen. But the train will now enter Aachen Main Railway Station on a different platform.
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