BELGIUM | Federal Parliament approves financial support of cross-border night trains 

The Mobility Committee of the Federal Parliament has just rubberstamped the bill proposed by Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) which aims to support the development of night trains departing from or arriving in Belgium. These are not to be confused with domestic commuter trains running at night to bring party people home… or to the party. 

This European premiere aims to attract new operators to Brussels and thus offer our Belgians new destinations that can be reached by night train. 

In addition, the aim is also to offer Europeans new opportunities to travel to Belgium in the most environmentally and climate-friendly way.

Georges Gilkinet, in a press release: “With the adoption of this law, Belgium will play a pioneering role in the development of rail connections between major European cities, with the explicit ambition to make Brussels a truly international rail hub. The international offer will be further rolled out in response to the enormous enthusiasm from the passengers. It is a real pleasure. But it is essential that we offer this concrete support to all current and future European operators, so that we encourage them to further develop their night train offer, thus providing a viable alternative can offer for air traffic for journeys of up to 1000 kilometres.”


High demand

The demand for more night trains is high. The ÖBB Nightjet linking Brussels to Vienna currently runs several times a week and is usually fully booked months in advance. 

On average, more than 60% of Belgians are willing to travel by high-speed train or night train instead of by plane in order to reduce their ecological footprint (source: survey of the FPS Mobility, June 2022). 

Petitions have been started in several European countries and each has collected thousands of signatures. The European Commission has also confirmed in its Green Deal that it wants to make rail transport and night trains more attractive.


Money talks

However, economic equilibrium is a major challenge for the companies and that has a significant impact on ticket prices. 

A night train runs once a day while a classic train can make several daily round trips and is therefore more profitable.

Not to mention the occasional problems caused by the war in Ukraine, which means that there is currently too little rolling stock available. In addition, operators need long-term perspectives to start up projects and international ticket sales still have room for improvement. 

The aim of this legal framework and this push is to help operators overcome these obstacles: by reducing their burdens, we stimulate activity and help new operators to start.

In concrete terms, the federal government will bear the charge for the use of railway infrastructure and the costs of traction energy for the night train operators.

Seasonal trains

“In this way we encourage operators to further develop their activities to and from Belgium, both by increasing the number of connections on existing connections, such as Vienna, and by supporting new operators who want to start in the short or medium term. After the Nightjet, a new night train will run to Vienna in a few weeks.”

“And other operators are considering night trains to the south in summer or to the mountains in winter. I want to give them the signal that they are welcome in Belgium. And if this European first proves to be a success, we can only hope that other European countries will follow suit, creating an even more favorable framework for night trains at even more attractive fares for travelers. In any case, I am very proud that Belgium is fulfilling this pioneering role. And I have already started pointing out to my European colleagues how important it is to follow our good example”, concludes the Minister of Mobility.

More on night trains and transcontinental train travel

5 Comments Add yours

  1. elvira797mx says:

    Beautiful buiding!
    Thank’s fr share Timothy.
    Have a nice week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      Thank you Elvira. Have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. elvira797mx says:

        You are welcome, Timothy.
        Great week as well.

        Liked by 1 person

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