Eurostar might cancel stop in Brussels for Dutch travellers
Travellers on the Eurostar from Amsterdam and Rotterdam may not be able to get off at the station Brussels-Midi in the future. This has emerged from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management requesting advice about this from consumer organisations. During the corona pandemic, Eurostar was given permission to deviate from their concession, which it wants to continue.
In March 2021, the Dutch Ministry of Transport gave permission to NS and Eurostar to temporarily deviate from the concession by not allowing passengers who boarded in Amsterdam or Rotterdam to disembark at Brussels-Midi station. This was due to the corona-related travel restrictions, more extensive ticket and border checks and lower passenger numbers.
This means that the stop at Brussels-Midi is only used to allow passengers to board in Brussels for the direction of London. Permission was granted on the condition that the situation would be evaluated in autumn 2021. This evaluation has been carried out by NS and Eurostar, and the companies want to continue this situation.
Shorter travel time
Scrapping the stop at Brussels-Midi for Dutch travellers brings several advantages, according to the evaluation of NS and Eurostar. Firstly, the journey time is reduced. By not serving Brussels-Midi, an acceleration of the travelling time can be expected in the future, because a capacity request can be made with a considerably shorter stop (15 minutes instead of 27 minutes) at Brussels-Midi.
Secondly, the security checks from Amsterdam and Rotterdam are simpler and therefore ‘more robust’. In addition, the front part of the train in Brussels would not have to be checked and cleaned separately. The shortened stop at Brussels-Midi also increases the ‘continuous travel experience’ of passengers departing from the Netherlands to London. According to Eurostar, surveys show that travellers assess the service more positively since the change. So far, neither NS nor Eurostar have received any complaints about not serving Brussels-Midi from the Netherlands.
Alternatives Thalys and IC Brussels
Relatively little use is made of the Eurostar to travel from the Netherlands to Brussels-Midi. Eurostar and NS have indicated that the number of passengers using Eurostar for the Netherlands – Brussels route is very small, with an average of less than 10 passengers per train in the pre-corona period 2018-2020. In addition, they say the the current alternative services available, such as the Thalys (10 times a day from April 2022) and the IC Brussels (16 times a day), are sufficient.
The Intercity Amsterdam – Brussels takes 2 hours and 47 minutes, while the Thalys travels in 1 hour and 53 minutes, the same as the Eurostar.
Eurostar operates in the Netherlands under the concession of NS. In order to stop serving the market to Brussels, permission is needed from the Dutch Ministry. In the meantime, passenger organisations have been asked for advice about the matter.