Confused about Brussels Train Stations

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Apr 9th, 2012, 12:50 AM
  #1
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Confused about Brussels Train Stations

Hello again,

I'm afraid I am quite bewildered about two of Brussels' train stations and how we are to navigate them.

Problems:

1. We are catching a train (Thalys) from Amsterdam to Brussels. This apparently arrives at Bruxelles-Midi (which means SOUTH - why not SUD?). It can also be called Gare du Midi or Zuidstation.

Anyway, we need to get to Brussels Centrale (or Gare Centrale or Brussel Centraal) because our hotel is walking distance from that station.

What is the easiest way to get to Central from South? We are told that Intercity is easier than Tram or Metro, but that the Midi station is big and busy so is there an easy way to find our way to the Intercity train we need?

2. After spending a night in Brussels, we are travelling to Bruges for two nights. Can we get a train from Central to Bruges, or do we need to make our way back to Midi for that trip? If we do, again what are the directions for getting from Central to Midi and on to a train that will get us to Bruges?

3. Following our 2-day stay in Bruges, we are travelling to Paris - again via Thalys, and again this train leaves from Midi. Various forums say that the Midi station has quite a high crime rate - especially for tourists looking "obviously lost".

It is also mentioned that the signage is not that good and I want to be sure that we can get off the train from Bruges and quickly and easily find our way to the correct Thalys platform. Is there an easy way to plan this ahead of time?

Thanks in advance - and sorry for being paranoid. Just need to be confident.

Regards,

Steve
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Apr 9th, 2012, 05:38 AM
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1. Catch a commuter train to Centraal. It's very easy, and only one stop away from Midi (Zuid). On the monitors that are all over the station, only the final destination of the trains are mentioned. So you better ask someone what trains stop at Centraal.

2. Yes, you can catch a train in Centraal. It goes straight to Brugge in just over an hour.

3. Again, catch a train to Midi (Zuid). Unless you travel at night, there will be a lot of people in the station. If you watch your belongings, you will be alright. Thalys trains to Paris (usually) leave from platforms 3 to 6.

Here's a map of Bruxelles Midi ( Brussel Zuid) on which 'perron' means 'platform': http://www.b-europe.com/~/media/File...russel_NL.ashx
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Apr 9th, 2012, 06:41 AM
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part of the confusion is the name, it was the middle station on the north south line hence Midi, but changes in tracks, types of track and stations mean it is now the south one.

Also having 3languages in a country adds to the mess.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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'Midi' is used to indicate 'south' in France: it comes from 'mi' middle and 'di', day, in Old French, because the sun is in the south in the middle of the day. The south of France is known as le Midi also. Check this website out for more information.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_France

Lavandula
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Apr 10th, 2012, 02:30 AM
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Hi Myriam,

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. It has cleared up a lot of my confusion.

Just one more thing regarding the wonderful map link you sent me. In the Thalys section it seems to indicate TGV using platforms 5-6 and ICE using platforms 3-4. Is this just the way I'm looking at it or is this the case. If so, what is the difference between ICE and TGV and if I'm travelling to Paris from Brussels, will I definitely be on TGV?

Thanks bilgoburgler and lavandula for clearing up the "Midi" issue.

Regards,

Steve
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Apr 10th, 2012, 04:47 AM
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I believe all the trains headed north from Midi will pass through central station. So there are plenty of trains you can take. Check the time schedules posted around the station (usually on large yellow posters). They will mention the time and the final destination of each train. The stations they pass in between at will be displayed underneath in smaller print. If central station is mentioned, you can take that train. Then check the screens to make sure the platform number hasn't been changed. Also keep in mind that there is a different schedule for week-days and weekends.

From central, there is a direct train to Bruges. It has to pass through Midi anyway, so you can take the same train back, but get off in Midi.

Thalys, ICE and TGV are three different high speed rail companies. They all have their own trains that make use of the same terminal in Midi. Once you enter the terminal, check the screens to know which platform your Thalys train will be leaving from.

Midi station does have a bad reputation for being unsafe, but I believe it is a bit overblown. While the platforms above for the regular trains could use a serious update, the commercial area below is clean and bustling with people. As long as you take normal travel precautions, you should be fine.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 07:44 AM
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When traveling from Paris to Brussels and vice-versa you will be on Thalys (high speed train between Paris and Amsterdam via Brussels or Antwerp).
If I recall well Thalys leaves from platform 3 or 4. You can't miss 'cause the train has its name 'Thalys' written on each waggon. The definite platform will be announced on the monitors and through the speakers about 15 min. before departure time.
http://www.assistantclub.be/reposito...s/thalys_2.JPG
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Apr 11th, 2012, 05:51 AM
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Hello again Myriam,

You have been a great help. Thank you so much. I'm really sorry to keep bugging you, but I just went on to the www.b-rail.be site to find regional trains from Bruges to Brussels Midi station, but I was asked for a particular Bruges station. eg: Bruges-Saint-Pierre; or Bruges Sp; or Bruges-Sint-Pieters. Which one should I choose?
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Apr 11th, 2012, 06:01 AM
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TGV is not a high speed rail company at all -- it is the name of a type of train (train à grande vitesse = high speed train), and the Thalys is also a TGV, as is the Eurostar.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 06:03 AM
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The first or default option should say:
Bruges [B]
or
Brugge [B]

Use that one. That's Brugge "central station" (even though it's not called that way). And it's the only station the direct trains from Brussels will call at anyway.

Only place names that are followed by [B] in those brackets are train stations.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 06:11 AM
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kerouac... that is obviously true, but the signage at Bruxelles-Midi actually treats those trains as if they were company or brand names.

So you follow the signs with logos of Thalys, TGV and ICE into one specific area of the station (for either service of those 3 train "names"), seperated from the regular SNCB platforms. It does not exactly look like a different "terminal", though.
Eurostar services depart from another separeted area.

So at least for sucessfully navigating Bruxelles-Midi station, Eurostar, TGV and Thalys are three different things.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 07:17 AM
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Hi Steve,
You'll have to use the local (official) spelling which is Brugge and Bruxelles (Nord, Central or Midi) or Brussel (Noord, Centraal or Zuid) - Brussels being bi-lingual. Same for Antwerpen and Gent.
As cowboy1968 explained already, the places followed by [B] are train stations.
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Apr 12th, 2012, 04:41 AM
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Myriam, Cowboy1968,

Thank you both very much - I am finally confident.

Regards,

Steve
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May 9th, 2012, 12:23 PM
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I need some help/guidance regarding: trains Paris to Brugge(hopefully bypass Brussels). And then return from Brugge to Central Station Brussels. First: I know there are trains Paris/Lille/Brugge. they supposedly by Thaalys--- a 18:25 train from Gare De Nord to Brugge-arrive 20:53. Is there a change of trains in Lille. When I look at EuroRail and Belgium RR schedules regarding trains from Midi-Brussels to St. Pieter Brugge-- they leave every 2hours such as 14:05, 16:05 etc ( if you go from Paris to Brussels then change trains at Midi). I do not understand that. Lastly, I see trains from Brugge going to Brussels: the schedules always say Brugge to Midi and then about ten minutes later Nord, running about two each hour. Do these stop also at Central? Reasons: Thinking of spending time in Paris (would take train frm Avignion); then go to Brugge for two nights; then probably stay in Brussels briefly for one night and fly to USA from Brussels, spending one to one and one half days in Brussels prior to returning to USA.
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May 9th, 2012, 01:32 PM
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Your last question is easy to answer:
Yes, all trains from Brugge call at Bruxelles Midi, Central and Nord. In that order.

I guess I don't understand your first question(s), but just so much: Brugge is not on a highspeed line. Whether you go via Lille or Brussels from Paris, you will always have to change to a "normal" (i.e. not highspeed/bullet train) for the last leg to Brugge.

First, you should check connections and fares at b-europe.com , which is the official Belgian Railways site for international connections.

If you put in
Paris Nord to Brugge
(NOT Brugge St. Pieters, which is not the main station of Brugge!)
you will get the different connections either via Lille or via Brussels-Midi.

The TGV connections via Lille are usually bit less expensive. But when you check the connection details, you will notice that you have to change stations in Lille (from the highspeed train station Lille Europe to the regular train station Lille Flandres). Which is appr. a 10 min walk between stations.

If you don't like that, the Thalys connections via Brussels-Midi are a bit more comfortable as you change trains within the same station building.
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May 9th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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Steve--Our hotel was rather close to Centraal, and we used that station as our "hub" for daytrips throughout Belgium. Worked very well.

Out of curiosity, at what hotel are you staying?
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Aug 30th, 2017, 06:01 PM
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I am also confused about Brussels train stations? Several years ago we took a train from Brugge to Brussels and came up in a square with a circle of hotels, a shopping street with an ornate cover over the street was to the left as you came up from the station and the Manncanpis was about four blocks in front on the square with the hotels on it. Do you know what station we were at?
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Aug 30th, 2017, 06:16 PM
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Hm, I don't know for sure but you might be talking about Bruxelles-Central (assuming you don't mean a metro station but a proper train?). There are a lot of hotels clustered around that station. And the shopping street - could that be an arcade (Galeries St Hubert)? Central is one of the stops for the train to Bruges (they all stop at Bruxelles-Midi, Central and Nord). Central is not the main long distance station but it is close to the centre of the city.

Lavandula
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Aug 30th, 2017, 06:38 PM
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So the first stop from Brugge would be Bruxelles-Midi and then Central? Are they within walking distance from one another? I think Galeries St Hubert was the shopping actually to the right of the hotel. Which area do you recommend staying in the Midi Train Station Area or Central Train Station Area?
Thank you Lavandula for the previous info.
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Aug 30th, 2017, 07:01 PM
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The first stop in Brussels is Midi, then Central, then Nord in that order. No, you wouldn't want to walk between them, it's a bit too far. I recommend you stay near Central or even near the Louise metro, that's a nice neighbourhood. Midi isn't the nicest area, nor is Nord.

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