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Rail travel options from Brussels

At the crossroads of Europe, Belgium has plentiful rail links to the rest of the continent.

Belgium's extensive rail network is run by SNCB/NMBS and is made up of InterRegio, InterCity, CityRail and Airport Express services. From Brussels you can reach Ghent in 35 minutes, Antwerp in 45 minutes, Bruges in an hour and the coast in 75 to 90 minutes. In Wallonia, Liège, Mons and Namur are all about an hour from the capital. Regular passengers can buy discounted passes and season tickets, students can get a school pass, and there's 50% off all tickets at the weekend. Tickets can be bought online and printed, or loaded on to your national ID card (no card reader required). Alternatively, you can now use your Mobib chip card.

www.b-europe.com

Eurostar trains use the Channel Tunnel and serve Brussels, Lille and London. Brussels to London takes just two hours, with trains leaving from Midi several times a day for St Pancras. Don't forget your passport/ID card, and some tickets require that you check-in up to one hour in advance. Discounts are available for business customers and frequent travellers, and tickets can be booked online or from travel agencies or international ticket desks. There's also a Eurostar app for bookings, travel information and mobile ticketing. If you have ecocheques, you can use them to pay for your ticket if you book via certain travel agents.

www.eurostar.com

Thalys is a high-speed train that operates between Midi station and northern European cities such as Amsterdam, Aachen, Lille and Paris. You can book up to six months in advance. It links with the French high-speed TGV trains to reach more than 30 destinations in France, including the Alps and the Riviera. Thalys also offers a low-cost service called Izy on its Brussels-to-Paris route; tickets from €19. The journey time is extended to two-and-a-half hours and there are limited facilities, with no buffet bar and restrictions on luggage.

www.thalys.com

www.tgv-europe.be

InterCity Express connects Brussels with Frankfurt three times a day. The train makes several stops along the way, and only takes three hours and five minutes. SNCB/NMBS also operates EuroCity trains that depart daily from Brussels for major European destinations in eastern France, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

www.bahn.com

www.b-rail.be

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