Antwerpen-Centraal railway station
|Location||Koningin Astridplein, Antwerp|
|Owned by||National Railway Company of Belgium|
|Line(s)||12, 25, 27, 59|
|Opened||11 August 1905|
Antwerpen-Centraal (English: Antwerp Central; French: Gare d'Anvers-Centrale) is the main train station in the Belgian city of Antwerp. The station is operated by the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS).
History and architecture
The original terminal station building was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the first terminus of the Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp railway. The stone-clad building was designed by Louis Delacenserie. The viaduct into the station is also a notable structure designed by local architect Jan Van Asperen. A plaque on the north wall bears the name Middenstatie, an expression now antiquated in Dutch.
The station is widely regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium, although the extraordinary eclecticism of the influences on Delacenserie's design had led to a difficulty in assigning it to a particular architectural style. In W. G. Sebald's novel Austerlitz an ability to appreciate the full range of the styles that might have influenced Delacenserie is used to illustrate the brilliance of the fictional architectural historian who is the novel's protagonist. Owing to the vast dome above the waiting room hall, the building became colloquially known as the "spoorwegkathedraal" ("railroad cathedral").
In 2009 the American magazine Newsweek judged Antwerpen-Centraal the world's fourth greatest train station. In 2014 the British-American magazine Mashable awarded Antwerpen-Centraal the first place for the most beautiful railway station in the world.
The originally iron and glass train hall (185 metres long and 44 metres or 43 metres high) was designed by Clément Van Bogaert, an engineer, and covers an area of 12,000 square metres. The height of the station was necessary for dissipating the smoke of steam locomotives. The roof of the train hall was originally made of steel.
World War II damage and restoration
During World War II, severe damage was inflicted to the train hall by the impact of V-2 rockets, though the structural stability of the building remained intact, according to the National Railway Company of Belgium. Nevertheless, it has been claimed that the warping of the substructure due to a V-2 impact had caused constructional stresses.
In the mid-twentieth century, the building's condition had deteriorated to the point that its demolition was being considered. The station was closed on 31 January 1986 for safety reasons, after which restoration work to the roof (starting at the end of March 1986 and finishing in September 1986) and façades was performed.
The stress problems due to the impact of bombs during the war were reportedly solved by the use of polycarbonate sheets instead of glass, due to its elasticity and its relatively low weight (40% less than glass), which avoided the need for extra supporting pillars.
Expansion for high-speed trains
In 1998 large-scale reconstruction work began to convert the station from a terminus to a through station. A tunnel was excavated between Antwerpen-Berchem station in the south of the city and Antwerpen-Dam station in the north, passing under Central station, with platforms on two underground levels. This allows Thalys, HSL 4 and HSL-Zuid high-speed trains to travel through Antwerp Central without the need to turn around (the previous layout obliged Amsterdam-Brussels trains to call only at Antwerpen-Berchem or reverse at Central).
The major elements of the construction project were completed in 2007, and the first through trains ran on 25 March 2007. The station was awarded a Grand Prix at the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards in 2011.
The station has four levels and 14 tracks arranged as follows:
- Level +1: The original station, 6 terminating tracks, arranged as two groups of three and separated by a central opening allowing views of the lower levels
- Level 0: Houses ticketing facilities and commercial space
- Level −1: 7 m below street level, 4 terminating tracks, arranged in two pairs separated by the central opening.
- Level −2: 18 m below street level, 4 through tracks, leading to the two tracks of the tunnel under the city (used by high-speed trains and domestic services towards the north).
The station is served by the following services:
- High speed services (Thalys) Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Antwerp - Brussels - Paris
- High speed services (Thalys) Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Antwerp - Brussels - Lille
- High speed services (Thalys) Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Antwerp - Brussels - Chambéry - Bourg-Saint-Maurice (in winter)
- High speed services (Thalys) Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Antwerp - Brussels - Avignon - Marseille (in summer)
- International Intercity services Amsterdam (12x a day) or The Hague HS (4x a day) - Rotterdam - Breda - Noorderkempen - Antwerp - Brussels Airport - Brussels
- Intercity services (IC-02) Antwerp - Sint-Niklaas - Gent - Bruges - Ostend
- Intercity services (IC-04) Antwerp - Sint-Niklaas - Gent - Kortrijk - Poperinge/Lille
- Intercity services (IC-05) Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels - Nivelles - Charleroi (weekdays)
- Intercity services (IC-08) Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels Airport - Leuven - Hasselt
- Intercity services (IC-09) Antwerp - Lier - Aarschot - Leuven (weekdays)
- Intercity services (IC-09) Antwerp - Lier - Aarschot - Hasselt - Liège (weekends)
- Intercity services (IC-10) Antwerp - Mol - Hamont/Hasselt
- Intercity services (IC-15) Noorderkempen - Antwerp
- Intercity services (IC-22) Essen - Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels (weekdays)
- Intercity services (IC-22) Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels - Halle - Braine-le-Comte - Binche (weekends)
- Intercity services (IC-28) Antwerp - Sint-Niklaas - Gent (weekdays)
- Intercity services (IC-30) Antwerp - Herentals - Turnhout
- Intercity services (IC-31) Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels - Nivelles - Charleroi (weekends)
- Local services (L-22) Roosendaal - Essen - Antwerp - Puurs (weekdays)
- Local services (L-22) Roosendaal - Essen - Antwerp (weekends)
- Local services (L-23) Antwerp - Aarschot - Leuven
- Local services (L-24) Antwerp - Herentals - Mol (weekdays)
- Local services (L-30) Antwerp - Sint-Niklaas - Lokeren
- Brussels RER services (S1) Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels - Waterloo - Nivelles (weekdays)
- Brussels RER services (S1) Antwerp - Mechelen - Brussels (weekends)
In popular culture
A staged "flash mob"-like event at the station in early 2009, featuring the song "Do-Re-Mi" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, became a viral video. It was performed by 200 dancers of various ages, along with several dozen waiting passengers who just jumped in and joined the dance themselves. The video was produced to publicize Op zoek naar Maria, the Belgian TV version of the BBC talent competition programme How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, about the search for an actress to play the lead role in a stage revival of The Sound of Music.
- "Antwerpen-Centraal is mooiste station ter wereld" (in Dutch). 25 August 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- Stations: A Destination That Matches the Journey Newsweek New York 10 January 2009
- All Aboard! 12 Beautiful Railway Stations From Around the World Mashable New York 25 August 2014
- Maraite, Louis. "Antwerp Central Station is linking history and future!". The Best in Heritage. SNCB-Holding. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Goethals, Violette. "Projects". Federplast.be. Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Erik Sclep (Communication Manager SNCB Holding), ed. (May 2011). "Welcome To Antwerp Centraal. The Railway Cathedral of the 20th and 21st century" (PDF). SNCB Holding (la Gare / het Station) National Railway Company of Belgium.
- Antwerpen Centraal fully open Today's Railways Europe issue 146 February 2008 page 7
- "EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2011". Archived from the original on 1 June 2014.
- "Press corner".
- Belgian railways timetable brochures Archived 5 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
Media related to Antwerp Central Station at Wikimedia Commons