Belgium in Brief: Full steam ahead for Europe's night trains

Belgium in Brief: Full steam ahead for Europe's night trains
Credit: Belga

It's been a good week for train enthusiasts, with Belgium's aim to become a European rail hub coming closer to fruition. Western Europe already boasts a highly developed network that has in the past opened up the continent.

Yet alternative travel modes, low-cost flights in particular, have seen many turn their backs on trains, seduced by the cheap destinations offered by airlines. In the EU, less than 10% of travellers take the train. Which is not to say that people don't want to – if the option were there many would happily choose this efficient and comfortable alternative.

Thankfully, steps are being taken to cater to this demand, perhaps most excitingly with a number of night train connections due to land in Brussels in the near future. We often fall asleep on trains – occasionally with unwanted consequences. The allure of sleeping in a dedicated bunk and waking up in the heart of a distant city is both novel and nostalgic.

And the vision is becoming reality, with a night train already running between Brussels and Vienna, another starting between Brussels and Berlin from May, and now a direct link to Barcelona expected in 2025.

As ever, price will be a deciding factor as to how (and where) people go. For all the environmental nonsense of flying, airlines have to an extent democratised travel – bringing exotic vacations to many who could only dream of voyages further than neighbouring countries. With purchasing power taking a pounding in recent years, EU support will be needed to ensure that night trains don't become an unaffordable luxury.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your coffee break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

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