Brussels Central Station

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Brussels Central
SNCB logo.svg Railway Station
Front Brussels Central station.jpg
Station statistics
Coordinates 50°50′44″N 4°21′25″E / 50.84556°N 4.35694°E / 50.84556; 4.35694Coordinates: 50°50′44″N 4°21′25″E / 50.84556°N 4.35694°E / 50.84556; 4.35694
Line(s) North–South connection
Platforms 6
Other information
Opened October 4, 1952 (1952-10-04)
Station code FBCL
Owned by National Railway Company of Belgium

Brussels Central Station (Bruxelles-Central / Brussel-Centraal) is a metro and railway station in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. It is the busiest railway station in Belgium[1] and one of three principal railway stations in Brussels, but handles primarily domestic traffic. (See: List of railway stations in Belgium) First completed in 1952 after protracted delays caused by economic difficulties and war, it is the newest of Brussels' main rail hubs.

History[edit]

For a long time Brussels North and Brussels South were the primary railway stations in Brussels (Brussels North slowly supplanted the original Groendreef/Allée Verte Station near the same site). However, they were joined only by an inadequate single track running along what is today the route of the Brussels inner ring road. Many proposals were put forward to link the two stations more substantially, but it was not until just before the First World War that a law was passed mandating a direct connection. The Putterie district was razed to make way for the connection, and work was then halted by the war. Financial constraints limited work after the war, and in 1927 the government suspended the project altogether. In 1935 a new office dedicated to the project was set up and work resumed. The Central Station was planned as a hub in the connection. However, the Second World War slowed construction again. The interruptions and delays to construction left large areas filled with debris and craters for decades.[2] The station was finally completed in October 1952 based on a modified design by Victor Horta.

Railway station[edit]

The railway station has six tracks, served by three island platforms. These are underground, beneath the city blocks within the "Boulevard de l'Impératrice/Keizerinlaan", "Rue de l'Infante Isabelle/Infante Isabella straat", "Kantersteen" and "Rue de la Putterie/Putterijstraat".

The main entrance and ticket office are at ground level on Keizerinlaan/Imperatrice, and there are several other entrances on the other streets. The station was renovated between 2004 and 2010 in an attempt to better equip the station to present levels of usage (which can reach 150,000 passengers/day on the busiest days). Two new entrances were created, and the main entrance was extensively renovated. The "Carrefour d'Europe", a pedestrianised square, was created in front of the station. [3] Plans are underway for the renovation of the tunnel which links the main station with the metro stop. It has been described as dilapidated, dirty, and permanently tinged by the smell of urine. [4] An architectural firm had been retained in 2010 to implement the project designed to make the hallway a better "window" to Brussels for the many travellers who begin their journey there. Shops and a more luminous, graffiti resistant environment were planned, pending final planning approval.

Although Brussels' central station is at the very heart of the city, its capacity is not adapted to present usage levels (ca. 70,000 passengers on a weekday), let alone future levels. The interior and the platforms have been renovated in recent years, but the main problem (i.e. lack of capacity) has not fundamentally been addressed. There have been suggestions to expand the station, but none of them has gained widespread acceptance. Today at peak times about 96 trains an hour use the six platforms of the station. With passenger growth expected to average 4% per year in the coming decade, Infrabel, the administrator of the Belgian rail network, has determined that an expansion of the rail capacity and of the Central Station will be necessary. [5] The CEO of Infrabel has estimated the cost of an adequate expansion at least a billion euros, and has said it will be necessary to complete the project by 2020.[6] However, the task of getting all relevant authorities to agree on a plan has so far proved difficult. Some credit a general taboo against discussions of expanding the North-South rail axis as a result of the history of extended delays and widespread destruction of neighbourhood blocks that the initial construction brought between 1911 and 1952.

Preceding station   EuroCity   Following station
Terminus
Vauban
toward Chur
Iris
toward Zürich Hbf
Preceding station   NMBS   Following station
toward Oostende
IC A
toward Eupen
Terminus
IC B
IC Fyra, service temporarily suspended
toward Blankenberge and Knokke
IC E
From monday to friday, except holidays
toward Tongeren
On weekends and holidays
toward Liège and Genk
toward Quievrain
IC F
toward Mouscron
IC H
toward Schaarbeek
IC I
Terminus
IC J
IC "des Ardennes" & Luxembourg
toward Luxembourg
IC K
toward Genk
toward Poperinge
IC L
toward Sint-Niklaas
Terminus
IC M
toward Dinant and Liers
IC N
toward Essen
Terminus
IC O
toward Visé
IC R
toward Turnhout
toward Nivelles
IR b
toward Courtrai and Grammont
IR d
IR h
toward De Panne
IR i
From monday to friday, except holidays
toward Mechelen
On weekends and holidays
Terminus
toward Quevy
IR j
toward Binche
IR l
Terminus
IR n
IR o
toward Leuven

Metro station[edit]

Brussels Metro Logo.svg
Gare Centrale
Centraal Station
GareCentrale.jpg
Other information
Opened 1976
Owned by STIB/MIVB
Services
Preceding station   Brussels Metro   Following station
Line 1
Line 5

Five minutes' walk from the railway station through a pedestrian tunnel, there is a Brussels Metro station, also called Gare Centrale - Centraal Station. It is located under the "Marché au bois/Houtmarkt".

This was first opened as a premetro station on 17 December 1969 on the tram line between De Brouckère and Schuman. This premetro line was upgraded to full metro status on 20 September 1976 and today lies on the joint section of lines 1 and 5 that cross Brussels from east to west.

See also[edit]

Media related to Brussels Central station at Wikimedia Commons

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gares : Bruxelles-Centrale en tête". La Libre. 10/06/2010. Retrieved 15 June 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ State, Paul (2004). Historical dictionary of Brussels. Scarecrow press. p. 122. 
  3. ^ "Bruxelles: la nouvelle gare centrale a été inaugurée". rtbf.be. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Durant, Jerome (6 May 2010). "Le couloir de la gare centrale enfin rénové". rtbf.be. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Ysebaert, Tom (26 September 2008). "Brussel-Centraal heeft extra spoortunnel nodig". Nieuwsblad.be. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Infrabel consults on Brussels bottleneck". Railway Gazette. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2011.