The federal government will pay the railway infrastructure fees and traction energy costs of night-train operators, following approval by the Council of Ministers last week of a bill to this effect, Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Greens) announced on Wednesday.
The planned budget is €2 million.
The stated aim of this legal framework is to help operators lower their costs and "thus facilitate the activity and help new operators to take off," Gilkinet said.
"The success of Nightjet, the night train between Brussels and Vienna, shows the potential of this means of travel between European capitals," he added. "This is one of the reasons why I proposed this law, which is a European first.
"With this, the federal government wants Belgium to play a leading role in the European desire to develop more and faster international railway links between Europe's major cities, with the particular ambition of making Brussels a true international railway hub," Minister Gilkinet is quoted as saying in a press release.
"The international supply is still developing too slowly at the moment," he noted. "It was therefore essential to offer this concrete support to all current and future European operators, to encourage them to develop the supply of night trains and provide a solid alternative to air transport."
According to the minister, interest has already been expressed in linking Sweden (Malmö) or the Czech Republic (Prague) to Brussels. Other operators are considering night trains to the south in summer and to the mountains in winter.
"I want to give them the signal that they are welcome in Belgium, and if this European first is successful, we can hope that other countries will follow us," Gilkinet said.