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Antwerpen-Centraal railway station

Coordinates: 51°13′02″N 4°25′16″E / 51.21722°N 4.42111°E / 51.21722; 4.42111
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Railway Station
View of the station from the Koningin Astridplein
General information
LocationKoningin Astridplein,
2018 Antwerp
Coordinates51°13′02″N 4°25′16″E / 51.21722°N 4.42111°E / 51.21722; 4.42111
Operated byNMBS/SNCB
Line(s)12, 25, 27, 59
Platforms8 (24)
Platform levels4
Other information
Station codeANTC
Opened11 August 1905; 118 years ago (1905-08-11)
Antwerpen-Centraal is located in Belgium
Location within Belgium
Antwerpen-Centraal is located in Europe
Antwerpen-Centraal (Europe)

Antwerpen-Centraal railway station (Dutch: Station Antwerpen-Centraal, French: Gare d'Anvers-Central)[a] is the main railway station in Antwerp, Belgium. It is one of the most important hubs in the country and is one of the four Belgian stations on the high-speed rail network. From 1873 to early 2007, it was a terminal station. The current building, designed by the architect Louis Delacenserie, was constructed between 1895 and 1905. On 23 March 2007, a tunnel with two continuous tracks was opened under part of the city and under the station. The train services are operated by the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS/SNCB).[1]



Early history


Antwerp's first station was the terminus of the BrusselsMechelen–Antwerp railway line, which opened on 3 June 1836. The original station building was made of wood and was replaced by a new and larger building on the occasion of the opening of the new international connection to the Netherlands in 1854–55.

Antwerpen-Centraal railway station, c. 1910. Note the elaborate garden on the Koningin Astridplein.

The current terminal station building was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the first station. The stone-clad building was designed by the architect 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 ("Middle Station"), an expression now antiquated in Dutch. To the north of the station a large public square, known as the Statieplein ("Station Square"), was created, acting as an entry to the city for its many commuters. In 1935, the square's name was changed to the Koningin Astridplein, in honour of the recently deceased Queen Astrid.

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.[2] Nevertheless, it has been claimed that the warping of the substructure due to a V-2 impact had caused constructional stresses.[3] The impact remains visible due to a lasting wave-distortion in the roofing of the hall.[2]

Visible wave-distortion in the roof of the train hall. The warping of the structure can be seen at the far top-right end of the roof.

In the mid-20th 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.[3] After replacing or repairing steel elements, they were painted burgundy. Copper was also used in the renovation process of the roof.[3]

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 railway station in the south of the city and Antwerpen-Dam railway station in the north, passing under the Central Station, with platforms on two underground levels. This allows Thalys, HSL 4 and HSL-Zuid high-speed trains to travel through Antwerpen-Centraal 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.[4] The station was awarded a Grand Prix at the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards in 2011.[5][6] These works, including the connecting tunnels, cost €765 million[7]



The station is widely regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium,[8] 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").

The originally iron and glass train hall (185 metres long and 44 metres[9] or 43 metres[3] high) was designed by Clément Van Bogaert,[9] an engineer, and covers an area of 12,000 square metres.[3] 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.[3]

In 2009, the American magazine Newsweek judged Antwerpen-Centraal the world's fourth greatest train station.[10] In 2014, the British-American magazine Mashable awarded Antwerpen-Centraal the first place for the most beautiful railway station in the world.[11]

Station layout


The station has four levels and 14 tracks arranged as follows:

  • Level +1: The original station, six 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, four terminating tracks, arranged in two pairs separated by the central opening.
  • Level −2: 18 m below street level, four 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:[12]

  • High speed services (Eurostar) Amsterdam – Rotterdam – Antwerp – Brussels – Paris
  • High speed services (Eurostar) Amsterdam – Rotterdam – Antwerp – Brussels – Lille
  • High speed services (Eurostar) Amsterdam – Rotterdam – Antwerp – Brussels – Chambéry – Bourg-Saint-Maurice (in winter)
  • High speed services (Eurostar) 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
  • International European Sleeper service Brussels – Amsterdam – Berlin – Prague
  • 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)
Preceding station Eurostar Following station
towards Paris-Nord
Eurostar Rotterdam Centraal
Brussels-South Eurostar (winter)
Brussels-South Eurostar (summer)
Preceding station NS International Following station
Antwerpen-Berchem Intercity Direct 9200
Preceding station NMBS/SNCB Following station
Terminus IC 02
towards Oostende
IC 04
IC 05 Antwerpen-Berchem
IC 08 Antwerpen-Berchem
towards Hasselt
IC 09
weekdays, except holidays
towards Leuven
IC 09
IC 10 Antwerpen-Berchem
towards Hamont or Hasselt
Antwerpen-Luchtbal IC 15 Terminus
towards Essen
IC 22
weekdays, except holidays
Terminus IC 22
towards Binche
IC 28
IC 30 Antwerpen-Berchem
towards Turnhout
IC 31
IC 31
towards Roosendaal
L 22 Antwerpen-Berchem
towards Puurs
Terminus L 23 Antwerpen-Berchem
towards Leuven
L 24
towards Mol
L 30
towards Lokeren
S 1
towards Nivelles
S 1
Preceding station European Sleeper Following station
Brussels - Prague Roosendaal
towards Praha hl.n.

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.

The station is used in Agatha Christie's Poirot episode "The Chocolate Box" to represent a station in Brussels.

The beginning of Austerlitz, the final novel of the German writer W. G. Sebald is set in the station.[13]

See also





  1. ^ Officially Antwerpen-Centraal (Dutch: Antwerpen-Centraal, French: Anvers-Central)


  1. ^ "ANTWERPEN-CENTRAAL". belgianrail.be. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Goethals, Violette. "Projects". Federplast.be. Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Antwerpen Centraal fully open Today's Railways Europe issue 146 February 2008 page 7
  5. ^ "EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2011". Archived from the original on 1 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Press corner".
  7. ^ https://www.railway-technology.com/projects/antwerpen/?cf-view
  8. ^ "Antwerpen-Centraal is mooiste station ter wereld" (in Dutch). 25 August 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b Maraite, Louis. "Antwerp Central Station is linking history and future!". The Best in Heritage. SNCB-Holding. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  10. ^ Stations: A Destination That Matches the Journey Newsweek New York 10 January 2009
  11. ^ All Aboard! 12 Beautiful Railway Stations From Around the World Mashable New York 25 August 2014
  12. ^ Belgian railways timetable brochures Archived 5 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Smith, Charles Saumarez (9 November 2017). "Antwerp Station". Charles Saumarez Smith. Retrieved 12 June 2024.