Belgian railway company SNCB wants to significantly expand its offer in Brussels over the next three years (2023-2026), with better connections between major cities and extra late trains to and from the Capital Region.
In "the most ambitious transport plan ever," SNCB wants to focus mainly on the offer around Belgium's major cities in the country. The company's board of directors already approved the plan at the end of March, but it has now also been presented to the local and federal representatives and various mobility actors in Brussels.
Starting from December this year, a total of 26 stations in Brussels will receive a better offer, with better connections between various major cities, more frequent S-trains (suburban trains around big cities) and extra late trains to and from Brussels on Friday and Saturday evenings.
By 2032, SNCB also plans various investments in Brussels stations, with a view to better accessibility and intermodality.
Travelling in the late hours
The new plan will be rolled out in several phases and will lead to recruiting on a large scale (more than 500 train drivers and conductors should be recruited by 2023). Train manufacturer Alstom is on track to deliver improved new rolling stock.
From December 2024, extra late trains will run on Friday and Saturday evenings until after 01:00, making it easier to travel between the capital, neighbouring municipalities and other cities in the country in the late hours. In the opposite direction, an extra late train will run from Antwerp to Brussels on both Friday and Saturday.
To create an extra connection between the European Quarter and the Brussels municipality of Jette, the S4 Aalst – Brussels-Luxembourg will now also run during the weekend.
Also during the weekend, the frequency of IC trains between Liège, Leuven and Brussels and between Brussels and Charleroi will be doubled, meaning they will run twice an hour – making both leisure trips and train journeys to Charleroi Airport easier, via a smooth transfer in Luttre.
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From June 2025, the section between Brussels and Ottignies (Flemish Brabant) will partly consist of four tracks, expanding the S offer between Brussels and Ottignies on weekdays. The Aalst – Mechelen connection (via Brussels-Schuman) will then also run a second time per hour, resulting in two direct trains per hour between Jette and the European quarter.
The exact schedule for this train has yet to be determined and will depend on the available rail infrastructure at that time. The S7 Halle – Merode – Mechelen will also run twice an hour, replacing the S4 between Delta and Mechelen.
From December 2025, the S5 will run a second time per hour on Saturdays between Halle and Mechelen, also stopping in the European quarter. The Nivelles – Brussels-Schuman – Leuven line will also run on Saturdays from then on. Finally, the frequency of the IC trains between Mons and Brussels will also be doubled during the weekends, so that two trains per hour run on that connection.
By 2026, SNCB will have at least 2,190 connections per hour across the country – 12% more than today. SNCB is also strengthening its cooperation with other operators, including Brussels public transport STIB, Walloon TEC and Flemish De Lijn, to further develop the intermodal hubs.