IC (Belgium)

Belgian national rail operator NMBS/SNCB, uses a generic ‘Intercity’ branding for its express trains that skip stations.

Some of these 'Intercity' services also cross the border into France on routes to and from Lille.

Howeveron the sections of routes taken by IC trains that are furthest from Bruxelles, the trains can call at every station between some towns

ON BOARD        BOARDING     SUMMARY

THE TRAINS:

A wide variety of trains are used for Belgian Intercity services, the IC branding is applied to the service/routes and NOT the train.

Until recently each separate InterCity route was given its own letter, but NMBS/SNCB has dropped this.

The trains that NMBS/SNCB uses for its Intercity services fall into three broad categories:

(1)  Loco hauled double deck trains with M6 coaches 

These trains are used between Bruxelles and:
(i) Antwerpen
(ii) Luxembourg via Namur
(ii) Charleroi
(ii) Knokke and Blankenberge via Gent and Brugge
(ii) Genk 

(2)  Loco hauled single deck trains with I11 coaches

These are the top flight NMBS/SNCB trains and are exclusively used on the Ostende - Brugge - Gent - Bruxelles - Liege - Eupen route.

Although other types of IC trains also operate between these cities.

(3)  Single deck trains with driving cabins at each end of the train -  these trains don’t need locomotives so the technical name for them is E.M.U.s

Some of the trains in this category have more in common with commuter trains and feel more cramped and crowded – and have limited luggage space.

The routes that that these type of trains usually operate on include:

(i) Lille - Tourcoing - Mouscron - Kortrijk - Gent - Antwerpen
(ii) Lille - Tournai - Mons - Charleroi - Namur
(iii) Poperinge - Ieper - Kortrijk - Gent - Antwerpen
(iv) Oostende -  Brugge - Kortrijk - Gent - Antwerpen

However:

Aside from that Ostende - Eupen service, the types of IC trains used on each service/route are fairly interchangeable.

Though the E.M.U trains are always used on the routes to/from Lille and the double deck trains aren't usualiy used on the routes  which don't serve Bruxelles/Brussels.

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ON BOARD:

NMBS/SNCB takes a no-frills, functional approach to its IC trains, but as very few journeys take more than a couple of hours, the lack of a wow factor doesn’t matter at all.

Food/drink cannot be purchased on these trains and they don’t have Wi-fi

Seats cannot be reserved on Belgian InterCity trains.

On the third type of train (which aren’t loco hauled) the difference between 1st and 2nd class can be particularly marginal.
The main benefit of travelling 1st class is that you will be more likely to find a seat on the busiest trains.

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BOARDING:

People tend to congregate by the electronic departure indicators on the voie/platform/track, so once you have confirmed that your train is next to arrive, move away from the crowds to increase your chances of finding a spare seat.

But don’t stray too far - 
The platforms/voie are not zoned and the Intercity trains can be between 3 and 11 coaches long.

If you have a 1st class ticket and the 1st class coaches are not near to where you are waiting on the platform, board by any door and then walk through the train if need be.

Whether a coach is 1st or 2nd class is indicated by numbers ‘1’ or ‘2’ on the side of the coaches - the use of a yellow band above the windows also indicates 1st class.

Some coaches contain both 1st and 2nd class seats - on coaches that have both classes, glass doors usually separate 1st from 2nd.

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