High-speed rail in Belgium

High-speed rail in Belgium

Belgium's rail network is served by four types of high-speed trains: Thalys, Eurostar, ICE and TGV trains. All of them stop in Brussels South station, Belgium's largest train station.Since 2007 Eurostar connects Brussels to London St Pancras. Before that date trains connected to London Waterloo. The German ICE operates between Brussels, Liège and Frankfurt Hbf.


The HSL 1 is a Belgian high speed rail line which connects Brussels with the French border. 88 km long (71 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 17 km modernised lines), it began service on 14 December 1997. The line has appreciably shortened rail journeys, the journey from Paris to Brussels now taking 1:22. In combination with the LGV Nord, it has also impacted international journeys to France and London, ensuring high-speed through-running by Eurostar, TGV, Thalys PBA and Thalys PBKA trainsets. The total construction cost was €1.42 billion.

The HSL 2 is a Belgian high-speed rail line between Leuven and Ans. 95 km long (61 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 34 km modernised lines) it began service on 15 December 2002. When its extension to the German border is completed (the HSL 3), the combined eastward high speed line will greatly accelerate journeys between Brussels, Paris and Germany. HSL 2 is currently used by Thalys and ICE trains as well as fast internal InterCity services.

The HSL 3 is a Belgian high-speed rail line currently under construction which will connect Liège to the German border. 56 km long (42 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 14 km modernised lines), it is scheduled for completion on 15 December 2007, but trains will not start to use it until 2009. HSL 3 will be used by international Thalys and ICE trains only, as opposed to HSL 2 which is also used for fast internal InterCity services.

The HSL 4 is a Belgian high-speed rail line currently under construction which will connect Brussels to the Dutch border. 87 km long (40 km dedicated high speed tracks, 57 km modernised lines), it is scheduled for completion by October 2008. HSL 4 will be used by Thalys trains as well as fast internal InterCity and NS Hispeed trains. Between Brussels and Antwerp (47 km), trains travel at 160 km/h on the upgraded existing line (with the exception of a few segments where a speed limit of 120 km/h is imposed). At the E19/A12 motorway junction, trains leave the regular line to run on new dedicated high-speed tracks to the Dutch border (40 km) at 300 km/h.


There are 3 stations in Belgium where high-speed trains stop:

* Antwerpen-Centraal
* Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel-Zuid
* Liège-Guillemins

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