Belgium to offer subsidies for new night train links

The Belgian government wants to provide a boost for international night train services and in next year’s budget has set aside two million euros in subsidies for train operators willing to provide such services. Mobility minister Gilkinet (Francophone green) says night trains must become an alternative for air travel.

Without subsidies operators are not keen to provide such services.  Sweden wanted to start a night train link between Malmö and Brussels but not a single operator showed any interest.  Sweden and Denmark were willing to offer subsidies, but not so Germany and Belgium and the proposed link was shelved.

This week’s budget agreement releases 250 million euros to promote rail travel.  More services will run. Stations will be made more accessible and the international line Brussels-Luxembourg will be improved.  In addition 2 million euros has been set aside for night trains. The government intends to offer operators direct support and, in this way, hopes to encourage more operators to take the plunge and start a night train service. 

European transport ministers recently urged the European commission to relax restrictions on state aid for international rail services. Mobility minister Gilkinet says Europe has ambitions plans for a Green Deal and these now need to be translated into precise action.  He opposes what he calls unfair competition between air and rail travel, especially over short distances.

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