Antwerp praises return of Benelux train

Summary

City alderman says Antwerp welcomes decision to reinstate the Benelux train in the wake of the ill-fated Fyra high-speed train.

NMBS will resume service between Brussels and Amsterdam at end of 2014

The city of Antwerp is “delighted” at the decision to reinstate the Benelux train from Brussels to Amsterdam in the wake of the ill-fated Fyra high-speed train, according to the city’s alderman for business, Koen Kennis.

The rail authority NMBS has announced it will resume a service between the two capitals at the end of 2014, with 16 trains a day. At present the capitals are only linked by a Thalys service. The resumed Benelux train, which was taken out of service when Fyra launched, will stop at Brussels Airport and in Antwerp. The Brussels-The Hague train, meanwhile, which is due to begin running on 7 October, will operate 10 times a day.

The new service will be an opportunity, Kennis said, for Antwerp to position itself as a major destination for shopping tourism. “With a better train service out of the Netherlands and a general open-mindedness in the consideration of being open on Sunday, we should be able to take Antwerp’s shopping policy to the next level.”

Peter Aerts, the director of the Antwerp chapter of Unizo, which represents small businesses, said his organisation would not protest against Sunday opening hours as long as the city was prepared to invest sufficiently in marketing to ensure enough extra income to compensate shop owners for the additional expense.

NMBS

Belgium’s national railway system was established in 1926 and is the sole provider of passenger train traffic in the country.
Overhaul - Starting in 2014, the railway system will operate under a two-pronged structure with transport division NMBS and infrastructure operator Infrabel. The umbrella organisation, NMBS Holding, will disappear.
Trio - NMBS comprises three organisational units: NMBS Mobility, NMBS Europe and NMBS Technics.
Criticism - The rail authority has frequently made headlines with continuing delays. The most common causes for delays are malfunctioning trains and infrastructure glitches.
223

million travellers in 2012

87

percent of trains on time in 2012

43

percent increase in female employees since 2005