FROM the start of the winter timetable on December 15, Belgian National Railways and Luxembourg Railways have accelerated their inter-city services between the two capitals. Work is underway to rebuild the E411/E25 motorway connecting Brussels and Luxembourg by summer 2006, and the railways have increased capacity by 20% to cope with the anticipated demand.

The previous service of four inter-city day trains and two international night trains has been cut to three daytime EC trains, which are joined by the three new IC services in each direction. Two will be operated by SNCB’s new M6 series double-deck trainsets, and the third by AM96 EMUs. Calling at Namur, Libramont and Arlon, the trains are booked to cover the 217 km from Brussels Luxembourg to Luxembourg in 2h 17min. This is 22min faster than the previous schedule, and an average speed of 95 km/h.

At the Brussels end, all trains will run through to Nord, Central and Midi, providing connections with Eurostar and Thalys. Journey time between Brussels Midi and Luxembourg is 2h 38min. The existing hourly stopping service will continue to link the two cities in 3h 3min.

The Brussels - Luxembourg route is scheduled to get €860m in SNCB’s 2001-12 investment plan (p27). Of this, €83·5m is allocated for capacity expansion and €30m for improvements to the station approaches at Namur. The biggest element is €465m for quadrupling the Brussels - Ottignies section to accommodate the capital’s planned RER services. The remaining €283m will go on maintenance. Further sums are being sought from the EU’s Eurocap Rail project for more fundamental line improvements.