Green light for Drielandentrein between Belgium, Netherlands and Germany

A letter of intent for the Drielandentrein was signed yesterday containing agreements that will allow the train to start running between Liège (BE), Maastricht (NL) and Aachen (DE) in December this year. With the carriers involved (NMBS, NS, Arriva) indicating that it is possible to run the train (financially, technically and in terms of capacity), the ministers involved are now also formally commissioning the service via the letter of intent.

The Drielandentrein is a unique project as it runs every hour between Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The train link connects the 3 border regions without changing trains, making it easier for residents to take the train for work, school, family visits or recreation.

Map of the proposed Drielandentrein to run between Maastricht, Liège (BE), Heerlen and Aachen (DE) from 2023. Provincie Limburg (NL)

Currently, from Belgium, a train runs between Liège and Maastricht once an hour. From the Netherlands, a train will run between Maastricht and Germany twice an hour from this year: 1 to Aachen and 1 to Herzogenrath. The Drielandentrein links the 2 connections so that a change at Maastricht is no longer necessary if you want to travel between the cities of these 3 countries. The new connection will add new direct connections. Liège, for example, will be connected via the Drielandentrein to Maastricht Randwyck (MUMC+ and MECC) and Heerlen (Hogeschool Zuyd, Brightlands). At both Liège and Aachen stations, you can board a high-speed train, bringing cities such as Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels, London and Paris much closer. As such, the Drielandentrein also contributes to making rail more attractive as an alternative to short-haul flights.

A lot of work was done in the run-up to getting the Drielandentrein. For instance, the trains were converted so that they could also run on the Belgian track and agreements were made to deploy both Dutch and Belgian staff on the route. A number of practical points remain to be addressed, including exactly what ticket sales and fares will look like.