The number of intercity trains between the Netherlands and Brussels is set to double following agreement between the NS and Belgian railway company NMBS to bring in a new route in 2025.
The new service, which will eliminate stops in Breda, Mechelen, and Zaventem airport, will also be some 45 minutes shorter, taking the trip from Amsterdam to Brussels to just over two hours.
In addition, the service will operate from Amsterdam Zuid station, rather than Amsterdam Centraal, and use a new train which is capable of travelling at 200 kph.
Ordinary services, taking in more cities en route, will continue and the Rotterdam, Breda, Brussels service will not be affected.
Costs and the exact timetable have yet to be finalised, but the new service will take the number of trains between the Netherlands and Brussels to 32 per day.
The Brussels route is the only cross-border train service on which NS will retain its monopoly from 2025 under the terms of the concession currently being finalised. The caretaker cabinet has agreed to open other popular routes, such as Paris, London and Berlin to competition and several other rail firms have applied for licences.
As reported earlier, the cabinet has also agreed to give NS, which is 100% state-owned, a subsidy of €13 million a year to compensate for the downturn in passengers since the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, ministers have given the green light for the introduction of higher ticket prices during rush hour. That plan has been heavily criticised by MPs and rail user groups and, insiders suggest, is unlikely to win parliamentary approval when it goes to the vote.
Caretaker junior minister Vivianne Heijnen is hoping to finalise the new agreement with the NS by the end of the year.
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