Three Countries train launch (Photo Arriva)

EUROPE: A through regional passenger train service linking Liège in Belgium with Aachen in Germany via Maastricht in the Netherlands was finally launched on June 30.

Branded as LIMAX for the cities served, the so-called Three Countries Service was originally expected to start running in 2018. However, the launch was delayed by various issues including the need to retrofit eight of Arriva’s Stadler Flirt 3 tri-voltage EMUs with ETCS, and then by storm damage to the infrastructure.

Journey time between Liège and Aachen is 94 min, with trains running hourly throughout and every 30 min between Maastricht and Aachen.

The service is operated by Arriva, in collaboration with Dutch national operator NS and Belgium’s SNCB for the Liège – Maastricht leg and with German transport authority goRheinland for the Maastricht – Aachen leg. It is staffed by crews from each of the three countries, with handovers at Maastricht and Heerlen.

Passenger information is provided in Dutch, French and German. All-day tickets are being made available, although a number of issues around through ticketing have yet to be resolved.

‘I am very proud to see this service finally take shape after all the complex planning involved’, commented Arriva Netherlands CEO Anne Hettinga. ‘This is a big moment for public transport in Europe and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide this service for customers, enabling seamless journeys and encouraging more people to use the railway.’