After almost 29 years, the Belgian EuroCity trains will ride a last time on April 4th 2016. On May 31st 1987, the EuroCity network was established as a successor for the TEE network. The EC-trains also contained 2nd class coaches – compared to their first class only predecessors.
In order to be labeled EuroCity, the trains need to respond to a certain number of quality and comfort standards, for example
- The relation needs to be international
- The train only stops in important cities
- Minimal duration of the stops
- Average speed of 90km/h
- On board catering
Travelling on board a EuroCity means fast international transport, in a comfortable setting.
The EuroCity relations originating in Belgium have been slowly cut down during the last years because of the gradual opening of the high speed network. The last remaining trains are
- EC 90 – 91 “Vauban“ connecting Brussels and Basel (CH)
- EC 96 – 97 “Iris” connecting Brussels and Basel (CH)
They will be replaced by high speed services over the 2nd phase of LGV-Est (Paris – Strasbourg), even though start of commercial operation has been postponed to July 3rd 2016. People travelling from Brussels to Switzerland will have to make the detour over Paris. Paradoxically, they will save time. This is proof of the steady decline in quality offered by the Belgian EuroCity trains during the last years.
I find it unfortunate that this cheap and flexible form of train travel to France and Switzerland will stop to exist in a couple of days. What stays will be a less flexible and thus more expensive form of transport. I can imagine this to direct travelers to the cheaper bus services sprouting all over Europe…