Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Rail operator Arriva wants to rival SNCB with service to Brussels Airport

09:06 28/09/2023

Public transport company Arriva has applied for permission from the Dutch authorities to run trains between the Netherlands and Brussels.

Arriva, which has operations in about a dozen European countries, is seeking to offer a number of additional train connections, including from The Hague or Amsterdam to Antwerp, Brussels and Brussels Airport from 2027.

The aim would be to operate 26 rail lines that would open gradually between 2026 and 2033.

The company is applying to the Dutch Consumer & Market Authority (ACM) “before irreversible decisions are taken” by the Dutch government to privately award the main rail network to NS until 2033.

Like other carriers, Arriva opposes NS's monopoly on the main rail network in the Netherlands.

It has already threatened legal action if the new award is granted exclusively to NS and the European Commission has also called on the Netherlands to comply with the rules for awarding public transport contracts. Previous legal actions have been unsucessful.

Brussels Airport has come out in support of new competition.

“It's interesting because we want to promote alternatives for short flights, such as between Amsterdam and Brussels,” said spokeswoman Nathalie Pierard.

“Covering that distance by train without changing trains is very good for travellers.”

Brussels Airport is still in discussion with carrier Eurostar in regards to a return of Thalys trains to the airport, but those negotiations have not yet yielded any results.

Belgian rail operator Infrabel pointed out that several steps are needed to obtain a licence for service in Belgium.

“The company must approve its equipment and meet Belgian safety standards and then submit applications to Infrabel,” explained Frédéric Sacré, spokesperson for Infrabel, which manages the Belgian rail infrastructure.

Photo: Niels Karsdorp, licensed under Creative Commons

Written by Helen Lyons