Make Schaerbeek a high-speed train station, says former Belgian rail CEO
Wednesday, 08 May 2019
Marc Descheemaecker, former CEO of Belgian rail NMBS/SNCB, wants to repurpose the Schaerbeek metro station into a new, modern international train station, connected to Brussels Airport Zaventem via monorail. In a column for De Standaard, Descheemaecker said that it makes sense to replace short-haul flights by high-speed trains, pointing at the Eurostar high-speed train that has a market share of 80% on the London-Paris and London-Brussels trajectories.
By lowering the high-speed train ticket prices to the level of short haul flights, numerous travellers would be convinced, he said in De Standaard. He believes that could be done by having Infrabel, the Belgian railway managing company, lower its tariffs for international train companies using the rail infrastructure.
Another crucial condition is a seamless connection between train and plane, Descheemaecker said. International high-speed trains, like Thalys, ICE, TGV and Eurostar, should have easy access to the perimeter of Brussels Airport. However, building a direct high-speed train connection to and under the airport would be far too expensive.
Schaerbeek would be well suited to build a new train station dedicated to international trains only, connected by moving walkways to the North Station, which would then become a ‘regular’ national train hub, Descheemaecker said. He compared it to London’s Saint Pancras International Station being side by side with a train station.