Plans for a steam train heritage service between Brussels and Mechelen shelved

“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″, we wrote in 2019. Quod non. Minister for Mobility George Gilkinet (Ecolo) declared in Parliament it’s not happening because it’s too complicated. 

“It is no longer the ambition of Train World and the NMBS / SNCB to run a steam train again,” replied the minister to a written question from Open VLD MP Marianne Verhaert.

The route would have been the original railway line between Brussels and Mechelen, which was the first railway line on continental Europe.

Safety systems

During the discussions it became clear “how complex it would be to run these trains, in this case steam trains”, says NMBS /SNCB spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman to VRT NWS. “Especially if we want to take into account the ETCS regulations.” 

ETCS (European Train Control System), otherwise known as ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) is a European safety system which will become mandatory on the Belgian railways within a few years. It’s a sort of cruise control.

The steam locomotive is not equipped with it. Temmerman emphasizes that the preservation of rail heritage via Train World remains important for the Belgian Railways, but in this case “it has been decided not to continue with this and to use our resources in that area to deploy new trains”.

Money will certainly also be an issue.

Heritage trains in Belgium

Are there heritage train and / or railway lines in Belgium? Yes! Do they operate steam trains? Yes!

  • The Stoomtrein Maldegem-Eeklo in East Flanders. From the beginning of May to the end of September, the organisation offers rides, holds events and has The Orient Dining Express. You can also rent their assets for photos and filming. 
  • The Chemin de Fer du Bocq in the Bocq Valley in the province of Namur. Currently the train departs from Spontin Station and runs to Ciney. There is currently no access to the train at Ciney due to renovations. The train then returns to Spontin before travelling onto the current end of the line at Bauche. The train then returns to Spontin with an overall journey time of 1½ hours for the round trip.
  • The Chemin de fer à vapeur des 3 vallées, also in Namur. Runs between Mariembourg and Treignes
  • The Stoomtrein Dendermonde-Puurs runs on line 52M between Dendermonde (Termonde) in East Flanders and Puurs in the province of Antwerp. The line is not linked to the Infrabel network. 

Feature image by Nico Spruyt who spotted this steam locomotive at Schaarbeek railway station.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. elvira797mx says:

    Looks amazing! Love trains.
    Thank’s for share Timothy.
    Have a great week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      Steam trains are fun rides.

      Have a lovely week, Elvira.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. elvira797mx says:

        Have a lovely week as well, Timothy.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. orededrum says:

    Very useful information, Thank you !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      You’re welcome ☺️


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