Over the years while its competitors embraced rail-air KLM of the Netherlands has remained a laggard.

It is true that KLM has tinkered with Thalys for Brussels-Schiphol connections but this is the first real move.

Yesterday came news that KLM has decided to embrace rail-air more seriously, but only for the above route.

From July 17 KLM will block seats on a number of Thalys high-speed trains connecting Brussels Midi with Schiphol. But it appears passengers would still be able to take the Thalys (departure) of their choice.

KLM passengers will be able to check-in their luggage at Brussels Midi and obtain boarding passes both for Thalys and their KLM flights.

The facilities are being instigated over the coming months. KLM knows that for rail-air to be a success both air and rail systems must communicate with one another.

KLM says that railway baggage handling must be integrated with secure storage (on the train) and efficient baggage transfer at Schiphol.

I ought to point out that the above arrangements have not yet been finalised.

As we all know by now KLM depends on sixth-freedom passengers to fuel its network. It does not like to rely solely on third parties.

Therefore it’s reported by luchvaartnieuws.nl that KLM will continue to operate four flights a day between Brussels and Amsterdam.

Brussels is an important market for KLM as there are few long-haul flights from the Belgian airport.

Furthermore many multinationals are based there and some if not most of them are located near Brussels airport.

Says Boet Kreiken, executive VP customer experience KLM, “Developing the AirRail product in partnership with Thalys is a step in the right direction (on our living environment). Our cooperation with Thalys reflects our commitment to intermodality.”

Adds Bertrand Gosselin, CEO Thalys, “Together we are creating a product that combines rail and intercontinental flights to meet our customers’ expectations of an environmentally friendly alternative.”