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Belgium train travel - can someone provide an overview?

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Belgium train travel - can someone provide an overview?

Old May 24th, 2011, 11:33 AM
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Belgium train travel - can someone provide an overview?

Am incredibly confused by the rail/metro options in and around Belgium. I intend to make Brussels my hub and travel outward from there; to Brugges (and back), Amsterdam (and back) and Paris (and back). Can someone tell me when I use a rail pass, when i use the metro, which ones i have to buy ahead of time, etc? Have read so many forums and discussions,been to their websites but still don't get how it all fits together.

thanks so much!

Vast
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Old May 24th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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For those three destinations you need the train.
To Brugge it is a local train.
To Paris the Thalys, which you need to book ahead of time to get the best price.
To Amsterdam either the Thalys, again booking it ahead of time, or the Intercity, which is slower, but may be cheaper if you don't have time to book a cheap ticket on Thalys.
You don't need a rail pass for any of them - it will be cheaper to buy specific tickets.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 11:49 AM
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Thank you, hetismij, that is a great easy explanation.

And another question or two: would it be train for Cologne as well?
Is there an easy way to tell when I would book the Thalys and when I could use a "local train" where i wouldnt have to book ahead?
And do you know what the website or name of the "local train" so I can check schedules?

thanks for the guidance,
Vast
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Old May 24th, 2011, 12:36 PM
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Here is all you asked for:

http://www.b-rail.be/main/E/

cheers
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Old May 24th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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Thanks Pollux. I think the b-rail site should be most helpful. The challenge i'm having now is figuring out which train station to get off in in the cities i want to visit, and which one to get on in Brussels. I'll be staying at the Stanhope.

If you were going to train into the following cities, which would be the best stations to land in the middle of the city center or as close to it as possible?
Amsterdam
Bruges
Ghent
thanks much!

V
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Old May 24th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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You take a train to Cologne, there is no metro to C.

The centrally located station in Brugge is called "Brugge".

Main station in Ghent is "Gent St-Pieters".

The most important station close to your hotel is "Brussel-Centraal".

Train to Amsterdam:
Choosing between Thalys and Intercity is a matter of time and money.
Thalys has only reserved seats, Intercity not.
If you book well in advance (2-3 months) Thalys is as affordable and as cheap as Intercity.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 03:43 PM
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I hope you enjoy the Stanhope as much as we did! We were upgraded to a very fabulous suite but even without that the hotel was lovely. Enjoy!
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Old May 25th, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Am confused again. So the Train is not the Metro? These are two different lines of transportation? I know Thalys is separate. What's a Metro versus a Train?

and Soogies - am so glad to hear a good report on the hotel!!! thanks.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:48 AM
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To solve this confusion you need a dictionary.

Read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_(disambiguation)

For Belgian train info you go to www.nmbs.be
For metro systems in Flanders www.delijn.be
Metro system in Brussels www.mivb.be
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Old May 26th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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A metro is a system within a city and its immediate suburbs, that's all. The word is short for "metropolitain" in French. So a metro is a "train" in the limited term of being very light rail, but by definition, it isn't for long distance.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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And do check if the Belgian railways are not on strike. There's some sort of strike about once a month.
For longer distances, the Thalys may be more expensive, but also a lot faster.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 07:59 AM
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When you are travelling Brussels, best to use Brussels Centraal station, its right after brussels midi.

FYI Amsterdam Centraal Station is bang in city centre, you'll enjoy great scenery the second you leave the station
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Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 08:10 AM
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Though there is a France-Benelux Railpass that gives you unfettered unlimited days of travel in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg it may not be cost-effective for you unless you are traveling more days on trains - the pass becomes cheaper per day the more days you buy on it - this is a flexipass good for unlimited calendar days of your choice spread out over a 2-month period. But the Thalys train Brussels to Paris charges even pass holders an absurd surcharge of about $35 or more - so I think getting advance discount tickets on the Thalys www.thalys.com is your best bet - but do not just show up and pay full fare as that can literally cost hundred bucks or more than the cheapest online but limited in number advance tickets. For Belgian trips just buy tickets as you go or investigate the day pass. For Amsterdam you could also try the discounted Thalys tickets or take the flat fare and not real expensive IC trains. check out these fantastic sites IMO for lots on trains and passes in those countries - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 10:54 AM
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And as usual I strongly recommend, after decades of incessant rail travel in those countries going first class - basically most trains in one of the world's most densely populated areas (I believe Holland has a density rate exceeding that even of India!) can at rush hours act as commuter trains and can be SRO in 2nd class but there will still be always IME lots of empty seats in first class and seat are bigger and if luggage easier to store right next to you in an empty seat rather in a possible already full overhead luggage rack in 2nd class.
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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 06:42 AM
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Metro is a local train around belguim. For online booking, check out www.B-Rail.com for all timetables and cost.
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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 06:46 AM
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Best to Purchase a Eurail Pass 15 days within 2 months, which gives you exclusive access to majority of trains in Europe. The advantage with train travel is that it brings you straight to the city centre and offers less hassele with arriving to airports.
Have a look at www.B-rail.com for all booking and timetabling needs.
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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 08:35 AM
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hich gives you exclusive access to majority of trains in Europe>

as on other thread I caution the use of the word 'exclusive' because it connotates there are special trains for Eurailpass holders when in fact having a railpass simply means you can ride any train anytime in Belgium with a pass - there are no Eurailpass trains a common misconception amongst novice travelers - not saying Trainrider meant this but just to clear that up.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2011, 03:16 AM
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For trains: If you're booking from the UK, go to www.b-europe.co.uk and you can book your tickets and print them out... on that site you can get Thalys, Eurostar, Intercity, German traines etc, and domestic Belgian tickets. if you are inside Belgium then you will pay more to buy (international) train tickets inside the station, and less if you do it online...
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Old Aug 23rd, 2011, 10:10 AM
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for domestic tickets, since there are no train resevvations of any but Thalys trains just wait until there is OK but I guess it just saves time to have them printed out - check to be sure the ticket is good on any train if you want flexibility.
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