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Rail transport in Belgium

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
IR train in Noorderkempen Station
National railwayNMBS/SNCB
Infrastructure companyInfrabel
Major operatorsThalys, Eurostar, SNCF, DB (passengers), Lineas, Crossrail, DB Cargo Belgium, SNCF Fret (freight)
Ridership206.5 million per year[1] (excl. DB ICE)
Passenger km9.9 billion per year[1]
Freight62.2 million tons per year (2006)[2]
System length
Total3,607 kilometres (2,241 mi) (2015)[3]
Double track2,860 kilometres (1,780 mi) (2010)[4]
Electrified3,064 kilometres (1,904 mi) (2010)[4]
Track gauge
Main1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
High-speed1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
3000 V DCMain network
25 kV ACHigh-speed lines and recent electrification
No. stations551[4] (2010)

Belgium has an extensive rail network. It is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Belgium is 88.

History[change | change source]

On May 5, 1835, the first railway in continental Europe opened between Brussels-Groendreef/Allée verte and Mechelen. Some sort of railroad or canal had been considered as early as 1830. The first trains were Stephenson engines imported from Great Britain. The engines were called Pijl meaning Arrow, Olifant meaning Elephant, and 'Stephenson' (named after its designer). . On the return from Mechelen, the Olifant pulled all 30 cars. By 1840, Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp, Mechelen, Brussels and Leuven were connected. The lines that had to reach Liège, Mons and Kortrijk were partially completed. In 1843, when the major East-West/North-South lines were complete, private companies were allowed to construct and use their own rail systems. These were crucial in the industrialisation of the country.

In 1870, the Belgian state owned 863 km of rail lines, while the private companies owned 2,231 km. From 1870 to 1882, the railways were gradually nationalised. In 1912, 5,000 km were state property compared to 300 km private lines. Full nationalisation was considered at the time but did not happen until 1926, when the SNCB was started. It was named the SNCB (Société nationale des Chemins de Fer belges) or NMBS (Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen), named in a similar way to the French rail network, SNCF, which was founded 12 years later. In 1958 the network was fully state-owned. On 5 May 1935 the SNCB started with electrification on the line Brussels North to Antwerp Central, 44 km.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Openbaar vervoer over de weg (1996-2007)" (in Dutch). NMBS. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  2. "Goederenvervoer op Belgisch grondgebied : voornaamste vervoersmodi (1999-2006)" (in Dutch). FOD Economie - Algemene Directie Statistiek en NMBS. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  3. "Fact&Figures 2015" (PDF) (in French). Infrabel. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Transports en commun par chemin de fer (1997-2010)" (in French). SPF-Economie Statistics / FOD-Economie Statistics. Retrieved March 4, 2014.