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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article26 October 20211 min read

Belgium aims to become an international hub for night trains

The Belgian Federal Government has announced that as part of a move to boost sustainable international mobility, it will set aside 2 million EUR to make Belgium an international hub for night trains.

The initiative to promote night trains, a greener alternative to cars and aeroplanes, follows a survey from the Federal Public Service Mobility. The survey results indicated that while just 6% of people in Belgium travel by night train, 62% would like to use this mode of transport.

Mobility in Belgium accounts for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. As such, providing support for greener, alternative modes of transport is critical for the Federal Government to achieve its climate objectives of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030, and to become climate neutral by 2050.

In a press release, Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet highlighted the popularity of night trains among people living in Belgium. However, the Minister also stated that several train operators are interested in establishing connections to Brussels, including the new European Sleeper.

While there is broad support for increasing access to night trains, several barriers must first be overcome by the sector. This is particularly true for night trains, as this requires substantial investment as well as requiring a consistent passenger base. This is the main reason for the financial support provided by the federal government.

However, the Minister for Mobility stressed that there is a need for improvements in Europe-wide regulations, as night trains operate within an international context. This could address unfair competition with air travel which tends to be much cheaper, as well as increasing flexibility of services.

The Minster for Mobility went on to state that “It is urgent to put an end to the unfair competition between international trains and aeroplanes, especially for very short distances, in order for Europe to achieve its climate ambitions".



Publication date
26 October 2021
  • Collective passenger transport
  • Belgium