Earlier this month Georges Gilkenet the Belgian Transport Minister gave a very positive interview at the RailTech 2023 conference held in Brussels. He outlined the long-term commitment his Government has made to develop the rail network over the next 10 years. During the interview he made clear the importance of rail in helping the Belgian Government meet their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also confirmed his commitment to develop Brussels as a night train hub by announcing that night trains will pay no track access charges or energy costs in Belgium for the next 2 years. You can find out more here at: https://www.railtech.com/all/2023/06/09/belgian-minister-gilkinet-talks-rail-challenges-night-trains-and-more/, where he gave a 12-minute interview in English. This is in marked contrast to
On the evening of Thursday 25th May the first European Sleeper left Berlin at 22.56 arriving in Brussels at around 9.30 the next morning. The return service to Berlin then left Brussels at 19.22 on Friday 26th May arriving in Berlin around 7.00 the next morning. This new service, running 3 times a week offers useful connections with the Eurostar service from Brussels to London and can also be joined at Rotterdam & Amsterdam. They hope to extend this service to Dresden and Prague next year. For further details see: https://www.europeansleeper.eu/en The launch of the new service got a lot of good publicity including this article in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2023/may/29/berlin-to-brussels-night-train-renaissance-gathers-speed-new-european-sleeper
Early last year we reported on the European Commission action plan to boost cross border rail travel. As part of this action plan, they agreed to identify and support 10 pilot projects to establish new rail services or improve existing ones. Together, they will improve cross-border rail connections across the EU, making them faster, more frequent and more affordable. While most may not start this year, most of them should be in operation during the next few years. The list of the 10 pilot projects was published at the end of January this year – for further details you can find them at:- https://transport.ec.europa.eu/news/connecting-europe-train-10-eu-pilot-services-boost-cross-border-rail-2023-01-31_en Rail passengers from the UK will be pleased to find several new connections between Germany, Denmark
The Belgian Government have announced that they will subsidize the track access charges for all night trains serving Belgium. This is designed to encourage train operators to run more night trains from Brussels to other parts of Europe. From here in the UK, we have long supported the development of Brussels as a night train hub, where convenient connections can be made with daytime Eurostar services. See this link which should translate into English for further information: https://www.lok-report.de/news/europa/item/37144-belgien-europapremiere-foederalregierung-beschliesst-ein-system-zur-unterstuetzung-von-nachtzugbetreibern.htm We now call on the UK Government to find a way of reducing the track access charges for both HS1 and the Channel Tunnel, so we can enjoy cheaper, more frequent train services to & from Europe.
On the 16th September our colleagues from Back on Track in Belgium, Germany, Denmark & Sweden organised a series of events to promote the need for a Night Train from Brussels to Malmo in the south of Sweden. Such a service would be very useful for people in the UK, as we could then connect directly into this service via an afternoon Eurostar from London. We have posted a link to a clip from Back-on-Track Belgium, which illustrates the various events which took place on that day. The link also shows a suggested timetable and some information about the various towns and cities served along the route. Although most of the text is in English, there is a bit in
Recently, French Railways re-introduced the night train service from Paris to Nice. From the 1st July they will re-introduce another night train service from Paris to Tarbes, Lourdes, Pau, Bayonne, Biarritz and Hendaye in South West France. Have a look at our recently published leaflet which you can find at https://www.eurorailcampaignuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/NightTrainsLeaflet.pdf . You will find a list of all-year and seasonal services running across West and Central Europe as well as useful daytime connecting links.
For many years Brussels has been the best place to make easy daytime connections from Eurostar into Germany & beyond. The Belgian Government have recently announced they will be spending up to 2 million Euros, to see how Brussels can be used to accommodate the growing number of night trains planned in the next few years. For further information see: https://www.bruzz.be/mobiliteit/twee-miljoen-voor-uitbouw-van-brussel-als-nachttreinhub-2021-10-14