Since 2020, a night train runs between Brussels and Vienna. That connection is a great success, says Gilkinet, but the supply of night trains from Brussels is growing too slowly to keep up with the number of potential travelers. Therefore, last week, at the proposal of the Ecolo Deputy Prime Minister, the federal government approved a preliminary draft law to financially support current and future operators who use night trains with a stop in Belgium.

    In concrete terms, from January 1 next year until December 31, 2024, the federal government will bear the railway infrastructure fee and the costs for the transport, distribution and supply of traction current. This is necessary because a night train is economically much less profitable than a classic train, which can run several times a day and does not require expensive sleeping quarters. EUR 2 million will be earmarked for this support. This had already been decided during last year’s budget conclave, but had yet to be finalised.

    According to Gilkinet, Belgium is the first European country to financially support night trains. “I am very proud that Belgium is fulfilling this pioneering role,” he says. The intention is to make Brussels an “international rail hub” for fast connections between European capitals, according to Gilkinet.

    According to the minister, interest has already been shown in connections between Brussels and Malmö in Sweden or Prague in the Czech Republic. Other operators are considering running night trains to the south during the summer months and to the mountains in the winter, according to Gilkinet. “I want to give them the signal that they are welcome in Belgium.”