International Train Services From and To Belgium


SIX THINGS WORTH KNOWING:

In contrast to train travel within Belgium, on which both discounted tickets and reservations aren't available, different terms and conditions apply to MOST of the international train services that operate to/from Belgium.
 

(1) Tickets will be cheaper if booked in advance for journeys by the high speed trains - the Eurostar, ICE, Thalys, and the TGV Bruxelles-France trains.

(2) Tickets will also be cheaper if booked in advance for journeys by the IC train service to The Netherlands.

(3)  Reservations are compulsory (and included on the ticket) on Eurostar, Thalys and TGB (TGV) trains.

(4) Reservations are available, but not compulsory on the ICE trains to/from Germany.
 

(5) In contrast to the high speed trains, discounted tickets and reservations are NOT available on the IC trains between Belgium and Luxembourg, or between Belgium and Lille in France.
 

(6) There are no overnight trains to/from Belgium.

THE SIX INTERNATIONAL TRAIN SERVICES FROM BELGIUM:
 

(i) THE THALYS TRAINS:

These trains operate on these four routes:
 

(1) Bruxelles Midi/Zuid– Antwerpen – Rotterdam – Schiphol - Amsterdam
 

(2)  Bruxelles Midi/Zuid - Paris Gare du Nord 

(3)  Bruxelles Midi/Zuid – Liege – Aachen – Koln – Essen – Dusseldorf – Dortmund

(4) Antwerpen - Bruxelles Midi/Zuid - Marne La Vallée for Disneyland Paris
 

The direct Thalys trains between Brugge, Charleroi, Mons, Namur, Oostende and Paris have been withdrawn.

Tickets can't be purchased either online at the station for journeys by Thalys train between Bruxelles and both Antwerpen and Liege.

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(ii) THE ICE  TRAINS:

These trains operate on this route:

Bruxelles Midi/Zuid – Bruxelles Nord - Liege – Aachen – Koln Hbf – Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport – Frankfurt (Main) Hbf.

For rail pass users the ICE trains are a much better option than the Thalys trains for journeys between Belgium and Germany.

If you won’t be travelling with a rail pass then you have a choice of Thalys or ICE trains for direct journeys between Brussels/Bruxelles* or Liege and Koln/Cologne or Aachen.

Choose whatever departure time/price suits you – both Thalys and ICE trains are sold on B-Europe, the ICE trains can be cheaper than the Thalys trains and vice versa.

Note that The ICE trains call at Bruxelles Nord station, but the Thalys trains don’t call there.

Tickets can't be purchased either online at the station for journeys by ICE train between Bruxelles and Liege.

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(iii) THE EUROSTAR TRAINS:

They operate on this route:

Bruxelles Midi/Zuid – Lille Europe – (Calais Frethun) – (Ashford International) – Ebbsfleet International – London St Pancras International.

Most of the Eurostar services on this route are operated by e300 trains.

However, some services are now operated by e320 trains.

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(iv) THE TGV BRUXELLES - FRANCE TRAINS:

These trains operate direct between Bruxelles Midi/Zuid and many cities in France.

By taking these trains you can avoid the awkward transfers between stations in Paris.

Stations in France that have direct TGVs from Bruxelles Midi/Zuid include: Aeroport Charles De Gaulle, Aix-en-Provence TGV, Avignon TGV, Lyon Part Dieu, Marne La Vallée, Marseille St Charles, Montpellier, Nimes and Strasbourg.

On the latest timetable update the direct TGV trains between Bruxelles and Antibes, Cannes, Nice, St Raphael and Toulon were discontinued - though connecting in Marseille and NOT Paris is an option.

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(v) THE IZZY TRAINS:

The TGV-IZY trains are a slower, they have a journey time of 2hr 12min, but cheaper alternative to the Thalys trains

They're slower because:
(i) they take an alternative route and spend most of their journey off of the high speed line
(ii) they're not non-stop between Bruxelles and Paris

They're usually scheduled to depart from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station at:

08:29 - only on Saturdays
10:00 - only on Fridays and Sundays
10:28 - on Mon-Thurs
16:29 - only on Sundays
16:37 only on Fridays

Tickets can only be booked on Izy.com.

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(vi) THE IC TRAINS:

Seats cannot be reserved on any these international IC trains and no on-board catering is available.

Non-high speed IC (Intercity) trains on operate on these five routes from/to Belgium:

(1)  Antwerpen/Anvers – Gent – Kortrijk – Lille Flandres (change of train many be required at Kortrijk)
 

(2) Mons – Tournai - Lille Flandres (change of train may be required at Tournai)
 

(3) Bruxelles Midi/Zuid – Bruxelles Central – Bruxelles Nord – Bruxelles Luxembourg – Namur – Arlon – Luxembourg

The trains used on these three routes are Belgian IC trains, which happen to have their journeys extended over the borders.
 

(4)  Bruxelles Midi/Zuid – Bruxelles Central – Bruxelles Nord – Bruxelles Aeroport – Mechelen – Antwerpen –  Breda – Rotterdam – Schiphol – Amsterdam Centraal*
 

(5)  Bruxelles Midi/Zuid – Bruxelles Central – Bruxelles Nord – Bruxelles Aeroport – Mechelen – Antwerpen –  Breda – Rotterdam – Den Haag/The Hague HS*
 

*These IC trains between Belgium and The Netherlands can be referred to online as ‘InterCity Brussels’ trains, but they don’t carry this branding – though they can have stickers on the doors showing that they operate between Amsterdam Centraal and Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid.
 

For rail journeys between Belgium and The Netherlands they're a slower alternative to the Thalys trains as they're not high speed trains.
Although when the most heavily discounted tickets for the Thalys trains have sold, they're (much) cheaper.

These IC trains are also a much cheaper option for rail pass users than the Thalys trains –as they have no additional charges.