NETHERLANDS Railways (NS) and Belgian National Railways (SNCB) are to intensify cross-border operations between the Netherlands and Belgium via the 125km HSL-South high-speed line connecting Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp from the December 2024 timetable change.

Alstom-built Coradia Stream Intercity New Generation Belgium (ICNGB) EMUs will be introduced on the line, replacing IC-Direct trains consisting of 40-year-old ICRm coaches, which are hauled by 160km/h Traxx MS2 multi-voltage locomotives located at either end of the train.

The 200km/h ICNGB eight-car EMUs will operate 16 times per day between Amsterdam and Brussels, offering a journey time of about 2 hours, a saving of 45 minutes compared with current IC services.

The trains will also no longer stop at the following intermediate stations currently served by Amsterdam Central - Brussels Midi IC trains: Breda, Noorderkempen, Antwerpen Berchem, Mechelen, Brussels Airport Zaventem, Brussels North and Brussels Central. The new ICNGB-operated service will call at the same stations as Thalys (now being rebranded as Eurostar), which operates on the same route and offers a journey time of 1h 56min.

A remarkable change is that the Amsterdam terminus for cross-border services will switch from Central station to Amsterdam South, the station closest to the city’s business district, which is currently undergoing major rebuilding. The so-called Zuidasdok project will be completed in 2030 and will transform the station into Amsterdam’s main railway station, accommodating all high-speed trains which currently start and terminate at Amsterdam Central.

A new IC service will be introduced between Brussels Midi and Rotterdam Central to serve those stations where the ICNGB trains will not call, also using HSL-South. This service will also operate 16 times per day and will offer a journey time of 2h 7min. SNCB will provide the trains for this service and says that it will be operated with “new or newer rolling stock.”

NS/SNCB and Thalys are expected to operate 47 daily train services via the Breda - Antwerp border crossing to Brussels in 2025.