EUROPE: Plans to launch a low-cost train service between Paris Nord and Brussels Midi were revealed by high speed operator Thalys on March 1.
Branded Izy, it is due to launch on April 3 using Thalys staff and two green and purple liveried trainsets. Izy will operate on conventional rather than high speed lines in France to reduce infrastructure costs, will have no buffet, and digital-only ticket sales through izy.com and distribution partners.
There will be two round trips a day, and three on Fridays and Sundays. The journey time of between 2 h 08 and 2 h 30 min will be slower than the 1 h 22 min on Thalys services, but faster than road transport.
Prices will start at €19 when booked up to two months ahead, and increase to a maximum of €59 in Standard seats when booked an hour before departure, and €69 for a larger Standard XL seat with an individual power socket, the equivalent of first class. Children under 12 will travel for €10. Interrail passes will not be accepted.
‘For the more adventurous’, there will be 25 tickets on each service for tip-up seats sold at €15, and 10 tickets without the guarantee of a seat priced at €10. Passengers will be able to travel standing in the unused bar car, or could be allocated a seat by the train manager if one were available. Izy warns that ‘this ticket type offers very limited comfort and is not recommended for people with reduced mobility, pregnant women, infirm passengers, children under 12 and elderly people.’
Seats can be upgraded to Standard XL for €10 in advance or €20 on the station platform. Passengers will be limited to one large and one small item of luggage each, with extra luggage costing €10 if pre-booked or €30 if paid on the platform.
‘All studies confirm that most people prefer the comfort and speed of Thalys to driving’, said Thalys CEO Agnès Ogier on March 1. ‘Today we take a new step with a new solution’. Reducing the speed and simplifying onboard service to a minimum enables Izy to offer ‘a journey at a low price but one which is still faster, safer, more sustainable and more comfortable than by car.’