ShowMeTheJourney's guide to arriving by Eurostar at Bruxelles-Midi/Brussels South station helps makes sense of what can be a confusing station to navigate.
It also explains what to be aware of when making onward connections; both into other train services such as the ICE trains and Thalys trains, or if you will be travelling on to Bruxelles/Brussels city centre.
The Eurostar trains now arrive at either one of two distinct parts of Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel Zuid station.
The trains which have Brussels / Bruxelles as their final destination arrive at voies (platforms/tracks) 1 or 2, which comprise the dedicated Eurostar terminal within Midi/Zuid station.
Only Eurostar trains use this part of the station.
However, the Eurostar trains which continue on to Amsterdam use voies (platforms/tracks) 3 - 6, which are located within the part of the station used by the other high-speed services, the ICE, Thalys and TGV trains.
These are the trains which typically depart from London at:
The exit lobby from Eurostar Arrivals at voies 1 and 2 within Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station is beyond the front of the trains.
The platforms (tracks/voies) at Bruxelles-Midi are above street level, so passengers need to descend in order to exit the station and connect into the other train services.
The only access down into the main station building from this Eurostar arrivals area can be by using the lifts (elevators) and the staircase.
Queues inevitably build up for the lifts, so taking the stairs can be the quicker option.
There are also escalators over to the left of the lifts, but on the most recent two occasions on which ShowMeTheJourney was at Bruxelles-Midi, they were switched out of use.
The lifts (elevators) and stairs all exit into a passage which runs across the front of the station; it is at right angles to the main passage way in the station, which has the main exits from the station at each end of it
So as you step out of the lift/elevators, this other main passage way is over to left.
Therefore to reach the main exits and to access other train services, the metro and the trams; turn left and then walk ahead to the right of the signs shown below.
There are taxi ranks at both ends of the ground floor passage way across the side of the station, which is beneath the part of the station used by the Eurostar trains, so it is where you'll initially find yourself having descended down Eurostar arrivals.
So if you're taking a taxi you don't have to follow the crowd, most of whom will be heading into the main part of the station.
Though the main taxi rank at Bruxelles-Midi is just outside the main exit from the station, once you're at ground level it will be merely a few steps away, over to the left.
The main exits at Bruxelles-Midi are located at either end of the main ground level passage way under the railway tracks at Bruxelles-Midi/Zuid.
It is named ‘Couloir Principal (French) and Hoofdgang (Dutch)' and is immediately over to the left when exiting from the lifts/elevators or stairs, which you will have used to descend from Eurostar arrivals.
On the left of the main passage way, right by Eurostar arrivals, is the primary exit from the station on to Place Victor Horta; and one of the taxi ranks at the station is located here, though at busy times it will have the longest queues.
At the other end of the main passage way,the ‘Couloir Principal'/Hoofdgang', is the secondary exit on to Avenue Fonsny, where many of the nearest hotels to the station are located, including The Ibis and The Radisson.
When a Eurostar train arrives at voies (platforms/tracks 1-2) there are usually two options for making the transfer on to another train departure at Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel Zuid.
1: Using the main passage way in the station
You can take the route which leads into the main station, in effect you will be following the crowd as this route is also used by the passengers exiting the station.
From the arrival concourse, passed the front of the trains, there are always lifts (elevators) and stairs down to the level below, which is where the main access points to the other trains can be found.
They can also be escalators down to this level, but on the previous two occasions on which ShowMeTheJourney has been at Bruxelles-Midi, they have been switched out of use.
When you have descended from the platform.(track/voie), which a Eurostar terminating in Bruxelles will have arrived at, follow the signs that have the ICE and Thalys logos on them - no matter which train service you will be connecting to.
When you enter the main street level passage way at the station, the the ‘Couloir Principal'/Hoofdgang', turn to the right to access all of the other trains that will be departing from Bruxelles-Midi.
You'll need to walk passed the Channel Terminal (Eurostar Departures) which you will see on the right.
A few steps further along on the right will be the departure area for voies/platforms 3-6 that all of the Thalys trains and most of the ICE trains will depart from.
If you will be connecting into a train on to another destination in Belgium, it will be departing from voies/platforms 7 - 22 and further along this Couloir Principal'/Hoofdgang' on the right there will be sets of escalators and stairs up to each platform, and on the left there are lifts.
The three potentially useful features of taking this route are:
2: Using the 'Correspondances' short cut
Approximately half-way along each of platforms (voies) 1 and 2 that the Eurostar will arrive at, is an escalator which leads down away from the trains.
It's not particularly obvious where it leads to, there are some train symbols on the signs by it, but it connects to both the departure area used by the other high-speed train services, and the south passage way in the station, the Couloir Sud/Zuidgang.
At the foot of the escalator, on the left you'll see the access to platforms/voies 3-6, which is where all of the Thalys trains and most of the ICE trains will be departing from.
If your train will be leaving from here, you can find out which voie (platform/track) it will be leaving from, once you're in the departure area.
Over to the right you will find the south passage way in the station, the Couloir Sud/Zuidgang, the signs also say 'Galerie Zud', which leads to platforms/voies 7-22, that the Belgian national trains and some ICE trains depart from.
Above the entrance to this passage way are departure summary indicators, so you can use them to check which voie (platform/track) your train will be leaving from.
The access to platforms/voies 7-22 from the passage way is by stairs and lifts (elevators), no escalators are available.
However, those escalators on platforms (voies) 1 and 2 can be switched out of use and when they are, this alternative access to the trains is closed.
Because this 'shortcut' to the trains is around halfway along platforms (voies) 1 and 2, it can be a particularly good option if your assigned seats on the Eurostar are in the rear half of the train.
If your seats are in coaches 1 - 5 the better option will be to use the main exits by the front of the train, because a scenario definitely best avoided is to head in the opposite direction to find these escalators, to then discover that they are switched out of use.
Regardless of where your seats are on the Eurostar, it's only worth considering using this short-cut if you know that your onward train will be leaving within the next 25mins.
Most of the Belgian national trains don't arrive at Bruxelles-MIdi until a couple of minutes before departure.
Though this short-cut can often by the best option when connecting into the ICE trains, as explained below.
The trains heading to Amsterdam use this part of the station.
Towards the middle of the voie (platorm) track the exits is by escalators and there will also be a lift (elevator) by the front of the train.
The exit from the escalators leads to main passage way under the station, which is named 'Le Couloir Principal/Hoofdgang’ and is pictured above.
If you use the escalators to descend from these platforms, then when you step into this main passage way, the access point to the metro station and underground tram stop will be ahead of you.
If you will be connecting to the trams and metro then once you are in the main passage way at the station, look out for the easy to miss capital letter 'M' on this sign pictured above.
It is pointing the way to the somewhat anonymous entrance to the Metro station.
The lift on the platforms (track/voie/spoor), will take you directly down into the main main passage way.
The most obvious street exits are at either end of 'Le Couloir Principal/Hoofdgang’ and there are taxi ranks at each of these exits.
This part of the station is also used by the Thalys trains, the TGV trains and most, but not all, of the ICE departures from Bruxelles-Midi.
If you're in luck your onward train will be leaving from the adjacent voie (platform/track) which will be just steps away.
Though the most likely scenario is that you'll need to descend from where the Eurostar will have arrived.
The escalators will take you down into an obvious route to the waiting area for the other high-speed departures.
If you use the elevator you will need to cross the main passage way in the station to access this waiting area, it will be to the left of the SNCB international travel desk.
To voies (platforms/tracks) 7 -22
The trains on to other destinations in Belgium and some of the ICE trains on to Germany will leave from voies (platforms/tracks) 7 -22.
If you won't mind using the stairs, when you step off the foot of the escalators there will be passage way, the Couloir Secondaire, which provides a short-cut to voies (platforms/tracks) 7 -22.
Though using sets of stairs up to each set of platforms/tracks is the only way to access the trains from here.
So if you want to use the escalators or lifts, head into the main passage way, 'Le Couloir Principal/Hoofdgang’.
If you use the lift (elevator) to exit from voies (platforms/tracks) 3 -6, you can step out of the lift into this main passage way, check the details of your onward departure and then use a different lift to access the the voie that your onward train will be leaving from.
Most, but not all, of the ICE trains on to Germany depart from voies (platforms/tracks) 3 to 6 which comprise the main high-speed terminal within Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel Zuid station.
It has its own waiting area, which also provides the most obvious route to the trains by using escalators.
The Eurostar trains which travel beyond Bruxelles to Amsterdam also use this part of the station and that includes the train which typically departs London at 11:04 and usually connects into the 14:25 ICE departure on to Koln/Cologne and Frankfurt.
Making the connection between these trains can, but not always, be as simple as, descending from the Eurostar by escalator, confirming the onward departure and then heading up an escalator to the ICE train.
There's a possibility that the ICE train will be just steps away on an adjacent voie (platform/track).
The timetable is arranged, so that the majority connections at Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station, between the arrival of a Eurostar from London and the departure of an ICE on to Germany are around 20 minutes.
However, security checks can now be carried out at Bruxelles-Midi in the part of the station (voies/sporen/platforms/tracks 3 - 6) USUALLY used by the ICE trains.
How long it takes to pass through these security checks inevitably varies according to how busy the station is, but twenty minutes should nearly always be enough time.
Regardless of whether the security checks are being carried out, the ICE train on to Germany will typically hang back for a few minutes, depending on when the 'connecting' Eurostar is actually arriving.
Though if the Eurostar is running late and you have a tightly timed connection, a good idea is to move towards the front of the train before it arrives in Bruxelles/Brussels.
The Eurostar trains which have Bruxelles as a final destination will arrive at voies (platforms/tracks) 1 or 2 and from these platforms there are usually two options to take which lead on to the ICE trains.
If the ICE train will leaving from voies (platforms/tracks) 7-10, don't turn left into the lounge area, instead go straight ahead and you'll come to sets of escalators which lead directly up to them.
If your reserved seats are in the rear half of the Eurostar train, so that you'll either by these escalators when you step off the train, or will come to them as you walk along the platform, using these escalators are the logical option for heading to the ICE train.
However, if your seats are toward the front of the Eurostar then that first option is the route to take.
You might save around a minute if you were to head for those escalators instead, but if they are not in use, the quicker option will have been to use the route from the main exit, passed the front of the trains
If you'll need to use the lift (elevator) you'll have to exit by the front of the trains, there is more than one lift, but queues can build up, which will inevitably put pressure on making the connection against the clock.
The operators of the Eurostar, ICE and Thalys trains are all members of the Railteam Alliance and its members operate a HOTNAT (Hop On The Next Available Train) policy.
So if the Eurostar arrives in Bruxelles too late to make a connection that you are booked on to, train any tickets/reservations can be transferred to a subsequent train free of charge.
You can do this at the SNCB International ticket desk in Bruxelles-Midi station, it's located by the entrance to the part of the station that the ICE and Thalys trains depart from; look out for the purple/pink windows and doors.
Though if possible, try to avoid having to make the final connections of the day into trains on from Bruxelles.
with a reservation on a Thalys service
Tickets/reservations for Thalys trains can also be re-issued by the easy to see Thalys Information desks.
However, if you will be travelling on to Germany, you should now be able to transfer tickets to the next train to be departing, regardless of whether it is an ICE or Thalys services.
We have read several reports in the railway press that tickets cannot be transferred between ICE and Thalys train departures.
But a fairly recent innovation is that DB now sells tickets for both the ICE and Thalys, so this is likely to have removed the block between the two services.
with a reservation on an ICE service
Reservations are optional on the ICE trains.
If you have not reserved on the ICE train then you can indeed hop on the next ICE train departing from Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station,
If you have opted to make reservations on the ICE train, then reservations can be re-issued by the SNCB International desk on the next ICE to depart (and it should now be possible to also transfer them to a Thalys train, if it will be the next departure).
You need to use the international terminal at the station to access to the Thalys trains departing from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel Zuid.
When you are in the main street level passage way at the station, the ‘Couloir Principal' it is located on the right; on the other side of the 'Channel Terminal' (Eurostar Departures) and the Thalys Information desks
The majority of the connections between the arrival of a Eurostar train and the departure of a Thalys train on to The Netherlands are around 50mins.
So if the departure/arrival times and price suit; target these connections that have a total journey time of 4hr 35min - 4hr 50mins.
50 minutes in Bruxelles should ensure a stress-free transfer at Midi/Zuid station, even if the Eurostar arrives up to 20 mins late.
In the unlikely event of a Eurostar arriving too late to make a booked connection into a Thalys train, reservations and tickets for the next Thalys train to depart will be re-issued free of charge at the Thalys Information desks.
Security checks have now been introduced at Bruxelles-Midi in the part of the station used by the other international high speed trains (voies/sporen/platforms/tracks 3 - 6).
How long it takes to pass through these security checks inevitably varies according to how busy the station is.
Travelling on a Saturday
However, Saturday is not the best day of the week to travel between London and Amsterdam by this combination of Eurostar and Thalys trains.
Three of the four connections on Saturdays have journey times of around 5hr 40mins; which involve spending more than 90mins at Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station between trains.
It's worth checking the location of your final destination in the city before arriving at Bruxelles-Midi station, as transferring to the Metro or tram may NOT be the best option.
Your Eurostar ticket will be valid on to any other TRAIN station in central Bruxelles which the mainline and NOT the metro trains, call at.
To Le Grand Place from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station:
Head to Bruxelles-Central station; the Metro and tram stops in the area aren't any nearer.
All trains heading north from voies/sporen/platforms/tracks 9-22 will call at Bruxelles-Central, though it can be tricky to work out which will be the next train to depart; though all of the trains heading to Brussels Airport will be calling at Bruxelles-Central.
To the northern area of the city from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station:
Those trains to Bruxelles-Central also all call at Bruxelles-Nord, so if you're heading to that part of town, don't take the tram.
To The Council of European Union offices
If you're heading for the area around those offices take a train (and not the metro) to Bruxelles-Schuman station.
Also If you're heading for the area around The European Parliament building take a train (and not the metro) to Bruxelles-Luxembourg station.
Trains heading to Namur/Namen, Gembloux, Louvain-la-Neuve, Luxembourg, Liege-Palais and Ottignies all call at both Bruxelles-Schuman and Bruxelles-Luxembourg.
To the area south of The Grand Place
If your final destination is to the south of Le Grand Place, in the area around the Manneken Pis statue, the easiest option isn't to take the train, but to take tram lines 3 or 4 heading north to the Anneessens stop instead.
More info about connecting to the tram and metro at Bruxelles-Midi is available HERE.
If your final destination is in the area to the north of the Grand Place around the De Brouckére or Rogier tram stops, then also take trams line 3 (heading to Esplanade) or line 4 (heading to Noordstation).
Avoid taking tram line 51.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.
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