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SNCB's new fast and direct coastal train service opens for the summer

Illustration picture shows a test ride of a direct train from Brussels to the Belgian coast, Saturday 05 June 2021. (BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
06:10 05/07/2021

After a successful test weekend at the beginning of June, Belgian train operator SNCB now provides direct trains to and from the coast both on weekdays and on weekends. The Coast Express, which requires passengers to reserve in advance of travel, was launched on Saturday and will be available throughout the summer holidays in addition to the regular services to the coastal towns of Ostend, De Panne, Knokke and Blankenberge.

In addition to offering guaranteed seating through the reservation system, the Coast Express will reach its destinations directly without stopping in the intermediate stations. Depending on the route, this will mean a reduction in travel times ranging from a few minutes to almost an hour. One example of this is the route from Brussels to De Panne which takes 54 minutes less than the usual service.

During the summer weekends, 20 daily direct trains (10 trips in the morning and 10 returns in the evening) will run from Liège-Guillemins, Brussels-Midi, Ghent-Sint-Pieters and Antwerp-Central to Ostend, Blankenberge, De Panne and Knokke. These are the most popular destinations for passengers taking the train to the coast. During weekdays, only four trains with reservations (two outbound and two returns) will run per day between Brussels-Midi and Ostend.

Reservations are possible up to 15 minutes before departure and are made via the SNCB website, for €1 in addition to the purchase price of a valid ticket. This reservation fee must also be paid for children under the age of 12, who are normally allowed on the train free of charge if accompanied. To board the Coast Express, each passenger must have both a reservation and a valid ticket, insists the SNCB.

In addition, passengers who are less mobile will also be able to request assistance according to the usual procedure, and bicycles will also be allowed on the train. There is no separate wagon for this, so space for bicycles is not guaranteed.

This pilot project will be evaluated at the end of the summer and a decision will be made as to how it will operate in the future.

Written by Nick Amies