Leo Express to launch new Bratislava-Brussels connection
Czech public transport operator Leo Express is aiming to introduce a train service connecting Belgium to Slovakia’s capital Bratislava in the coming months. Ticket sales also began on their new Bratislava–Komárno service.
Leo Express, a privately owned transportation company, has been offering rail and bus passenger services in Central Europe since 2012. While its primary focus is on the commercial Prague-Ostrava route, its trains also serve destinations such as Košice and Krakow. The company’s network is enhanced by bus routes extending to Poland and Ukraine.
Since December 2019, Leo Express has expanded its operations to include regional trains in Pardubice, and it is set to take over regional rail transport on the Bratislava-Komárno line in December 2023, the busiest Slovak line. The company has had Spanish state railway operator Renfe a main shareholder for two years since Renfe took a 50 per cent stake in the company. They aim for an 80 per cent growth in Central Europe of Leo Express activities.
Brussels – Bratislava service
Leo Express has submitted plans to Belgium’s Regulatory Body for Railway Transport, outlining a daily connection in both directions set to commence in late 2024 or early 2025, reports Belga. The regulatory body is currently evaluating the application and will make a decision regarding access to the Belgian rail infrastructure. The proposed journey, featuring nearly 50 stops across Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, is expected to span 19 hours.
The service would initiate in Ostend and include stops in Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Leuven, and Liège. Progressing through over 20 stations in Germany, such as Aachen, Cologne, Dortmund, Hanover, Leipzig, and Dresden, the route would then extend to the Czech Republic, with Prague among its stops. In Slovakia, the train would make stops in Kuty and Malacky before reaching the capital, Bratislava. Departing shortly after 6:00 in both directions, the train is scheduled to reach its final destination between 1:00 and 2:00 the following morning.
Leo Express possesses valid safety certificates for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, while its parent company holds a valid safety certificate for operations in Germany. However, the company lacks a safety certificate for Belgium. Leo Express plans to cooperate with a railway undertaking holding a valid safety certificate for Belgium, reports the Brussels Times.
Leo Express has initiated ticket sales in the Danube region for the Bratislava-Dunajská Streda-Vel’ký Meder-Komárno route, which it took over from Slovak railways ZSSK and Austrian railways ÖBB, commencing operations on December 10, 2023. To make the train service possible, Renfe Rental closed a leasing operation of twenty-one Alstom Coradia Lint model diesel trains, with which this regional service will be modernised. This was the first international operation of this Renfe subsidiary.
The trains are equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and a wheelchair-accessible toilet. They have a low-floor design, making them well-suited for transporting bicycles or baby carriages and easily accessible for individuals with disabilities. With a fleet comprising twenty-one units, each accommodating nearly 240 passengers, including 140 seats, Leo Express plans to offer nearly 100 daily connections. Concurrently, there will be an increase in connection frequency and capacity during peak hours between Dunajská Streda, Kvetoslavov, and Bratislava, with trains running at intervals of up to 20 minutes during peak periods.
For the Bratislava-Komárno line, Leo Express has introduced time tickets, catering to regular commuters. These tickets, available for 7, 30, and 90 days, offer an optimal solution for those who frequently travel for work, school, or leisure. Each ticket is issued for a specific route and time frame, granting the holder unlimited train journeys on the designated route, in any direction or section, throughout the entire validity period of the ticket.