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by train to and from Brussels/Belgium

An Introduction

A unique in depth, independent guide to travelling to and from Brussels/Bruxelles by train and using the primary stations in Brussels/Bruxelles.

Why Go To Brussels

Wikipedia guide to Brussels

Temporary Changes to Brussels/Bruxelles to Luxembourg trains

Due to technical reasons the hourly Bruxelles to Luxembourg IC trains are currently terminating at Arlon on the Belgian side of the border.
Connecting trains are being operated on to Luxembourg, the connections between arrival at Arlon and departure to Luxembourg are guaranteed, but overall journey times have been extended by approximately 10 mins.
What apparently cannot be guaranteed at Arlon is a cross platform level interchange between trains and for those with heavy luggage Arlon station has no lifts or escalators.

The 2x daily EC trains between Bruxelles and Switzerland are not affected, so these EC trains are currently the only direct trains in either direction between the Belgian capital and Luxembourg.

The technical problems are unlikely to be resolved over the summer months, but there MAY be a resumption of direct IC trains between Bruxelles and Luxembourg in the autumn, though a more likely scenario is that the direct trains will resume operating on the Dec 14th timetable change.

Explore Belgium from Brussels By Train

Many travellers pass through Brussels/Bruxelles, changing trains at Midi station in order to move on to other destinations including Amsterdam, Cologne, or London.
The views from the trains don't tend to encourage lingering, they travel through a gloomy tunnel through the heart of the city, but thanks to this tunnel it's easy to explore Belgium from Brussels by train.

Centraal station lives up to its name and is located in the heart of the tourist and shopping areas, as well as the city's public transport network.
Stay in a hotel near to Centraal station and you'll have easy access to virtually every other tourist destination in Belgium by train.

Brussels is in the very centre of Belgium, so virtually anywhere else in the country is a straightforward day trip by regular trains that operate at least hourly, and will convey you to other towns in less than two hours.

Use Brussels as a base for exploring the wealth of other must see destinations in Belgium including -
Aalst
Antwerp/Antwerpen
Bruges/Brugge
Dinant
Ghent/Gent
Hasselt
Kortrijk
Leuven
Lier, Liege
Mechelen
Mons, Namur
Tournai
Turnhout
or
Ieper/Ypres
.

As can be seen from the list above, you can have a holiday to remember by basing yourself in Brussels for a week (or more) and travelling each day to a different memorable destination.

A Nettreinkaart/Carte Train Réseau ticket (click here and look up 'Rail Passes Solely For Belgium for details) will cover you for any journey and enable you to make savings - you'll also have a fixed travel cost to factor into your budget.
You don't need to reserve seats (in fact reservations aren't possible on trains within Belgium), so simply use the timetables at Centraal station to work out the times and platforms of the trains>
You can therefore be spontaneous and head off to which ever destination is served by the next train to leave.

The three primary stations in Brussels/Bruxelles

The Belgian capital is served by three principle stations in the city centre; Midi, Centraal and Nord.

Main Line Stations in Brussels Summary

Midi is the primary station, so depature/arrival times to/from Brussels/Bruxelles on therebytrain.com are the times at Midi station.
It is the only station in Bruxelles used by Eurostar, Thalys and TGV-R trains to France. It is to the south of the city centre.
Centraal station lives up to its name and is close to the main tourist areas of the city, but the only international trains that call there are the EC trains to Switzerland.
Nord station is to the north of the city centre and is closest to the main business district of Brussels/Bruxelles. It is served by ICE trains to/from Germany, but the Thalys trains to/from both Germany and The Netherlands pass through.

Frequent trains connect the three primary stations in central Brussels.
All domestic (SNCB) trains serve all three central Brussels stations (aside from comparatively few national services from southern Belgium that terminate at Midi).

There are no overnight international trains from Brussels.

Midi Station

Midi station on Google Maps
All train departures from Brussels Midi station are listed HERE on the D-Bahn timetable.
Click here for the therebytrain.com guide to using the D-Bahn timetable.

Using Midi station

Click here for a diagram map of Midi station

All the platforms at Midi station are linked by a huge, if slightly gloomy, underground passageway which has short flights of stairs/escalators up to the platforms.
It also contains an information desk that can provide departure details for onward connections.
Travellers can therefore generally change trains (other than Eurostar connections) in under 10mins, particularly those that are familiar with the workings of the station.

Midi station has a reputation for being inhospitable in late evenings. The overwhelming majority of travellers will have no problems at all, but it can pay to be vigilant. Groups of youths tend to congregate when the station becomes quieter.

Other international trains from Midi

Due to technical problems the FYRA trains between Brussels/Bruxelles and Amsterdam have been temporarily suspended.

In addition to Eurostar, Brussels Midi is served by the following international train services;

  • Thalys – for trains/from to Paris, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, Aachen and Cologne/Koln
  • IC – for Rotterdam, The Hague, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam
  • ICE (also calls at Brussels Nord) – for Aachen, Cologne/Koln, Frankfurt Airport and Frankfurt (Main)
  • TGVR – for Lille, Charles De Gaulle Airport, Avignon, Bordeaux, Cannes, Lyon, Marseilles, Montpelier, Nimes, Nice and Perpignan
  • EC (also calls at Central, Nord and Brussels Gare Luxembourg) – for Luxembourg, Metz, Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Basel

There are no overnight international services from Brussels.

Arriving by Eurostar at Midi Station

Eurostar trains are very long and generally convey hundreds of passengers on each service. There is only one exit from Eurostar arrivals at Midi station with access to taxis, trams, metro and the main departure hall at the station. It is at the front of the train and queues of travellers can quickly build for the lifts/escalators – the Eurostar platforms are at an upper level.
If you don’t have luggage it is easier and faster to use the steps down to the main concourse at the station.
Passport and customs checks for the Eurostar trains are normally carried out prior to boarding the trains in the UK.
If you’re connecting into a train that’s departing 10-25 minutes later than the arrival of the Eurostar train you should be able to make the connection (regular users of the station can make connections of 5-10mins). However, you’ll need to avoid those queues that can build up at the main Eurostar exit and a long walk down the platform.

Halfway along the Eurostar platform there is an exit marked 'Aansluitingen'/'Correspondence' which is a subway link to the other platforms at Midi. The subway has indicators which tell you the next train(s) departing from each platform as well as paper timetables listing all subsequent departures.
If you’re fairly confident about your ability to find the connecting train you require, have a good idea that you won’t be waiting on a platform for too long for a train (it can be more than an hour between the arrival of a Eurostar and the departure of a ‘connecting’ Thalys’ or ‘ICE’ train) and don’t need/want to purchase refreshments before boarding your next train, then use this exit. You can be on any other platform within the large station within 5 minutes, though you’ll need to negotiate two flights of stairs.

However if you’re travelling in the front third of the Eurostar it will be easier to use the main exit (if you don’t you’ll find yourself travelling in the opposite direction to the tide of people heading towards the main exit).
Also use the main exit if :

  • you’d like to access additional information about your connecting train, in the main passage way in the station you’ll find information desks.
  • you want to purchase food/drink or have a meal before taking your next train (food and drink cannot be purchased on many trains within Belgium)
  • have time to kill before your connecting train departs

If you want to use the main exit and your connecting train departs within 20mins of the arrival at Midi station it is a good idea to move towards the front of the Eurostar train a few minutes before it arrives in Brussels, - the train will begin to slow down as it reaches the city centre.
You’ll then avoid the queues that can build up at the main exit.

Departing on Eurostar from Midi Station

The Eurostar services have a well-signposted dedicated check in area at the western end of the passage way (closest to the public transport), however its departure lounge has fairly limited refreshment facilities, so buy food or grab a meal at one of the numerous kiosks or cafés that are clustered at the western end of the passageway.
Be wary of making tight connections from other services into Eurostar departures, as check in queues can build up at certain times. Eurostar now recommend a minimum transfer time of 45 minutes.
When making connections from other trains you have to proceed to Eurostar via the main passage way at the station, the subway that you have may have used on arrival in Brussels is only available for Eurostar arrivals.

Centraal Station

Centraal station on Google Maps
All train departures from Brussels Centraal station are listedHERE on the D-Bahn timetable.

Using Centraal station

The vast majority of the most popular tourist sights in Brussels are clustered around Central station, so if you want to see something of Brussels while in transit, use the left luggage facility at Midi station and make your way to the central area.
Frequent trams also operate from Midi to the to the city centre, but the easiest option is hopping on a train to Central Station (as long as you have a valid ticket)

Eurostar tickets to/from Brussels are still valid to/from any station in central Brussels served by SNCB trains they are no longer valid for travel beyond Brussels city centre. Therefore it can be a good idea to check whether your hotel, or other ultimate destination, is adjacent to Centraal station before opting for a tram or taxi to complete your journey.

If it is and you were planning on using public transport to reach your hotel it will be a quicker to hop on to a train at Midi for the 5 minute journey to Centraal, you won’t have to buy another ticket, so can be at Centraal within 10 minutes of arrival at Midi.

If you're final destination is in central Brussels/Bruxelles and your train calls at Centraal station leave the train there and not at Midi or Nord.

Centraal station is underground and had a reputation for being dimly lit and awkward to use, it can get very busy at peak times. The platforms have been reconstructed in recent years so they're brighter, but the station can still seem somewhat chaotic for first time users.
Trains follow each other into the platforms every couple of minutes, so be vigilant and check the departure detail indicators on the platforms before boarding the trains.

Nord/Luxembourg Stations

Nord station on Google Maps
All train departures from Brussels Nord are available here HERE on the D-Bahn timetable.

Information for Brussels Nord/Brussels Gare Luxembourg

If your hotel or other final destination is near to either of these stations and your train doesn't call at them, it can be quicker to change trains at Midi to reach these stations by train rather than by other public transport options. (If you're travelling from north of Brussels to Gare Luxembourg change trains at Nord.)
Eurostar ticket holders can also take trains to/from Midi and Gare Luxembourg without purchasing another ticket.

ICE trains between Brussels and Germany call at Nord, but Thalys trains do not.
Thalys trains between Paris and The Netherlands also don't call at Nord.

Both Nord and Gare Luxembourg stations are in business areas some distance from the main tourist attractions in Brussels, so if you're heading to the city centre stay on the train to Centraal and don't alight at Nord or Luxembourg.
If you're on an ICE train from Germany and are heading for the city centre change trains at Nord and take a train to Centraal, it will be quicker than remaining on the train until Bussels Midi.

Inter City Trains from Brussels (Midi - Centraal - Nord) to other destinations in Belgium

Therebytrain.com has sumarised the IC (fast express) trains from city centre stations in Brussels/Bruxelles to other major cities in Belgium. Other destinations are served by slower IR trains, many of the destinations listed below are also served by slower IR trains.

Train times are vaild during the day from 08:00 until 20:00, departure times and destinations served oten alter outside these times.

These IC trains operate north to south through the centre of Brussels so call first at Nord, then Centraal and finally Midi at the minutes past the hour listed below

  • Route A TO Gent - BRUGGE - Oostende at 55 from Nord/59 from Central/05 from Midi (DAILY)
  • Route E TO Gent - BRUGGE - Blankenberge/Knokke at 17 from Nord/21 from Central/26 from Midi (DAILY)
  • Route F TO MONS - Quieverain at 22 from Nord/26 from Central/33 from Midi (MON-FRI take IR trains at weekends)
  • Route H TO Tournai (change for Lille, typical connection time = 6 mins) - Mouscron at 58 from Nord/02 from Central/07 from Midi (MON-FRI)
  • Route H TO Tournai (change for Lille, typical connection time = 6 mins) - Mouscron at 12 from Nord/16 from Central/21 from Midi (SAT/SUN)
  • Route L TO Kortrijk - Ieper (YPRES) - Poperinge at 32 from Nord/36 from Central/41 from Midi (MON-FRI)
  • Route H TO Kortrijk - Ieper (YPRES) - Poperinge at 22 from Nord/36 from Central/36 from Midi (SAT/SUN)

These trains operate south to through the centre of Brussels so call first at Midi, then Centraal and finally Noord at the minutes past the hour listed below. Train times are vaild during the day from 08:00

  • Route A TO Leuven - LIEGE - Verviers (change for SPA) - Welkenraedt - Eupen at 57 from Midi/01 from Central/06 from Nord (DAILY)
  • Route E TO Leuven - Diest - Hasselt at 36 from Midi/40 from Central/45 from Nord (MON-FRI)
  • Route F TO Leuven - LIEGE at 31 from Midi/35 from Central/40 from Nord (MON-FRI)
  • Route E TO Leuven - Hasselt - Genk/Leuven - LIEGE at 36 from Midi/40 from Central/45 from Nord (SAT/SUN)
  • Route K TO Leuven - Hasselt - Genk at 07 from Midi/11 from Central/16 from Nord (MON-FRI)
  • Route B TO Mechelen - ANTWERPEN (Roosendaal/Rotterdam/Dan Haag/Schiphol Airport/Amsterdam) at 18 from Midi/22 from Central/26 from Nord (DAILY)
  • Route I TO Mechelen - ANTWERPEN at 56 from Midi/00 from Central/05 from Nord (MON-FRI)
  • Route I TO Mechelen - ANTWERPEN at 33 from Midi/37 from Central/42 from Nord (SAT/SUN)
  • Route N TO Mechelen - ANTWERPEN at 28 from Midi/32 from Central/37 from Nord (MON-FRI)
  • Route J TO NAMUR - LUXEMBOURG at 33 from Midi/37 from Central/42 from Nord (DAILY) these trains also depart from Brussels (Luxembourg) station at 54 min past every hour
  • Route M TO NAMUR - Dinant at 03 from Midi/07 from Central/12 from Nord (DAILY) these trains also depart from Brussels (Luxembourg) station at 23 min past every hour
  • Route R TO Mechelen - Turnhout at 38 from Midi/42 from Central/47 from Nord (MON-FRI) take IR trains at weekends

NEW - Departure Time Summary for International Trains from Brussels (not Eurostar)

Click HERE for a departure time summary for EC, IC, ICE, TGV and Thalys trains from Brussels/Bruxelles to popular destinations in France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

You can find details of Eurostar departures on the button on the menu to the left.

NEW - International Trains to Brussels/Bruxelles Summary (not Eurostar)

Click the cities below for summaries of trains to Brussels/Bruxellles from these popular destinations:

We'll be adding more cities to the above list when the new pan-European railway timetables change in mid-December

Journey Time Summary from Brussels Midi

Train types in brackets
Less Than One Hour:

  • Antwerp/Antwerpen
  • Gent/Ghent
  • Liege (THA)
  • Mons
  • Lille (EST/TGV)

One – Two Hours:

  • Aachen (ICE/THA)
  • Amsterdam (THA/FYRA)
  • Bruge/Brugges
  • Blankenbere
  • Cologne/Koln (ICE/THA)
  • Dinant
  • Hasselt
  • Melk
  • Genk
  • Knokke
  • Kortrijk
  • Liege (IC/Local)
  • London (EST)
  • Maastricht
  • Namur
  • Paris Gare Du Nord(THA)
  • Paris Aeroport CDG (TGV)
  • Rotterdam (FYRA/THA)
  • Schiphol Aiport (FYRA/THA)
  • Tournai
  • Turnhout
  • Ypres/leper

Two – Three Hours:

  • Marne La Vallée (Disneyland Paris)(TGV)

Three - Four Hours

  • Frankfurt Flughafen (ICE)
  • Frankfurt (ICE)
  • Lyon (TGV)
  • Luxembourg (EC/IC)
  • Poitiers (TGV)

Four-Five Hours

  • Aix en Provence (TGV)
  • Avignon (TGV)
  • Bordeaux (TGV)
  • Metz (EC)
  • Valence (TGV)

Public Transport Connections

Click here for a range of public transport maps that cover the Brussels area.

Midi Station is a major public transport hub for the city, Metro (subway lines 2 and 6 and tram lines 3 and 4) are connected to the main building at Midi and the station is also served by numerous bus and tram services.
Central station is linked to Metro subway lines 5 and 6 and is close to the heart of the city’s bus network, while Nord station is served by Metro lines 3 and 4 and numerous bus and tram routes.