Schiphol lures Belgian travellers

23 Oct 2009 by Mark Caswell

A new 300km per hour rail line linking Amsterdam with Antwerp and Brussels is set to open in the second half of next year, and will encourage more Belgian travellers to fly long-haul from Schiphol rather than use other airports.

Right now Thalys (a version of France’s TGV) trains link Amsterdam Schiphol with Brussels six times a day but the journey takes 150 mins. Trains using the high-speed line cut some 60 minutes from these timings.

It means Belgian travellers will be able to access Schiphol more quickly, more easily and more economically than they can today.

Although Brussels itself boasts a good European network, it handles relatively few long distance flights. Belgian travellers heading beyond Europe often have to take a train to Paris or connect via the likes of Amsterdam, London Heathrow or Frankfurt.

Trains will operate half-hourly using a mixture of Thalys and Fyra (a new medium distance train) services operating at 300km per hour and 250km per hour respectively.

Dutch airline KLM has a ten per cent stake in the new rail venture and says that it will be offering facilities to passengers. Although KLM remains tight-lipped as to what these facilities will be, it is reasonable to assume the airline will make a special effort to look after its premium passengers and to make baggage handling easier for all.

But today’s limited number of  KLM connecting flights between Brussels and Amsterdam are expected to be dropped in due course.

Until the whole line is open it’s possible to sample the first stage between Schiphol and Rotterdam. Trial Fyra trains began operating recently. They are running every hour and have cut 20 minutes from the existing 46-minute trip time by conventional trains. It means the citizens of Rotterdam can access Schiphol (some 50 to 60km away) in the same time as a City worker in London can reach LCY (London City airport) by the DLR train link.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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