Like every year, Belgian railway company SNCB is implementing changes to its train schedule on the second Sunday of December - this is what changes this year.
The most notable change is the new, fast IC connection between Hasselt and Antwerp-Central (via Diest, Heist-op-den-Berg, Lier and Antwerp-Berchem) on weekdays, which has long been requested by commuters.
"Thanks to this connection, train passengers will be able to travel faster all day long between Antwerp, Hasselt and the stations in between," said SNCB. "Between Antwerp and Hasselt, the travel time will be around one hour."
Additionally, there will be direct connections from Landen and Zottegem to the European district in Brussels on weekdays. The direct line will reach Landen, thanks to the extension of the S9 train Eigenbrakel - Brussels-Schuman - Leuven. This train will also stop in Vertrijk, Tienen, Neerwinden and Ezemaal.
As far as Zottegem is concerned, the S8 train Louvain-la-Neuve - Brussels-Midi, which goes via the European district in Brussels, will run on weekdays until it reaches the East Flemish town (with stops also in Denderleeuw, Welle, Haaltert, Ede, Burst, Terhagen, Herzele and Hillegem).
The train will also stop at Anderlecht station along the way. This station, which was inaugurated at the end of 2020, will therefore have a second S-connection per hour on weekdays.
On top of that: extra early and/or late trains will run at various places.
On weekdays, this is the case between Gent-Sint-Pieters and Dendermonde, Gent-Sint-Pieters and Aalst, and from Kortrijk and Gent-Sint-Pieters to Brussels and back.
On Saturdays there is an extra early train from De Panne to Lichtervelde and Gent-Sint-Pieters, and in the evening in the opposite direction. And during the weekend there will be extra late trains between Ostend and Kortrijk.
Another novelty: the IC train from Antwerp to Brussels Airport and Leuven/Hasselt will also run every hour between Leuven and Hasselt on Sundays and holidays, from now on.
Due to construction works in Denderleeuw station, however, the S6 train Aalst - Halle - Brussels - Schaerbeek will no longer run between Aalst and Denderleeuw.
Travellers between Aalst and Geraardsbergen will have to change trains in Denderleeuw, said SNCB. Only during peak hours will it remain possible to travel directly between Aalst and Geraardsbergen.
As previously announced, the Benelux train will no longer run directly from Brussels to The Hague: passengers will have to change trains in Breda or Rotterdam.
All Benelux trains from Brussels (with Belgian stops in Mechelen and Antwerp, among other places) will now go to Amsterdam-Centraal: 16 trains a day in both directions.
This new schedule is part of SNCB's 2020-2023 transport plan, and provides for an increase of almost 5% between December 2020 and the end of 2023. That would correspond to 1,000 extra trains a week, SNCB said earlier.