To speed up travellers’ journeys, NS is preparing to roll out new trains capable of going at 200 kilometres/hour on some parts of the route, NS said in an online statement.
The Dutch railway company is also discussing other ways to accelerate the journey with its Belgian counterpart SCNB, including by scrapping stopovers in some Belgian stations before reaching Brussels.
The train currently serves a total of eight stations in Belgium before reaching Bruxelles-Midi, including Noorderkempen, two in Antwerp, Mechelen, and several stations in Brussels between Zaventem and Midi.
The company’s said it was seeking to use the coronavirus crisis as a launchpad for a revamped train offering capable of giving inter-city commuters the choice to swap out “polluting” forms of travel for the train.
“We must use this period to shift passenger flows sustainably from polluting road and air traffic to the train,” NS said.
The Dutch company said that rail travel from Amsterdam to Brussels grew by 14% in 2019 and by 20% to Berlin, a destination to which it also plans to roll out faster trains by 2024.
“The travel time to Berlin from Amsterdam will be 5 hours and 50 minutes, half an hour faster than the current 6.20 hours,” the company said.
The company said plans to seep up service to major EU capitals fit in with a wider goal of rolling out quicker train journeys throughout Europe in a bid to lure in more travellers from the aviation sector.
“Why is a ticket for Prague or Barcelona not as easy as Brussels or Berlin? I want to discuss this with other carriers in Europe,” NS CEO Marjan Rintel said. “Just like in aviation, I would also like to be able to book my train tickets a year in advance.”