Thalys, the French-Belgian high-speed train operator, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its connection to Germany on Wednesday. On 14 December 1997, the first Thalys train left Paris, via Brussels, for Aachen and Cologne. Since then, Thalys said the train has carried more than 20 million passengers to and from Germany.
Thalys was founded in 1996 when it connected Paris to Brussels and Amsterdam; expansion towards Germany followed at the end of 1997. Currently, there are up to five connections a day between Brussels and Cologne (in just under 2 hours), with some trains continuing to Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen and Dortmund.
Thalys has since merged with Eurostar, which operates high-speed trains between London and mainland Europe. The umbrella holding company is 18.5% owned by SNCB, while French operator SNCF is the majority shareholder. The Thalys brand name will disappear during 2023, leaving 'Eurostar' as the remaining name.
Thalys is not the only high-speed train between Belgium and Germany. ICE, part of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, also connects the two countries by rail and will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Brussels-Frankfurt connection on Thursday, in cooperation with SNCB. The German train carried more than 10 million passengers during that period, it recently announced.