Saturday 26 September 2020

Dutch, Belgian rail operators reap dividends with new HSL service

Image of NS double decker Dutch train sitting in station

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Travellers booking a last-minute weekend train trip from the Amsterdam to Brussels will see ticket prices rise by 70% to €94 from next Monday.

They will, however, get to Brussels 30 minutes earlier, as the the new Benelux train will travel on the high-speed rail tracks, the Volkskrant reported on Friday.

Dutch Rail NS and Belgian train operator NMBS which operate the Benelux train service are using the switch from the existing tracks to the HSL line on 9 April as an excuse to raise its fares significantly. The service will ride on the HSL track between Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and the Belgian port city of Antwerp.

Rail travelers lobby group Rover is positive about the changes – except for the higher price. Tickets bought seven days in advance qualify for a discount.  ‘But a week is too long a period of time to pre-book a ticket,’  said Rover spokesman Sanne van Galen.

‘Dutch travelers should be able to decide on a day out in Antwerp or Brussels at short notice. That’s impossible with the new prices. We’re trying to get people to take the train rather than the car, but this will not work.’

NS spokesman Ton Boon admitted day tickets were more expensive. He pointed out however that tickets booked at least seven days in advance cost only €25 instead of €45.

Meanwhile, in an effort to avoid having overcrowded rail cars in the month of April, NS is offering a €1 off-peak discount on the the Intercity Direct surcharge.

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