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Now that the NMBS, NS and Arriva carriers have indicated that it is possible to run the train, ministers have ordered the service to be started.

State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Belgian Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet and the Limburg deputy Maarten van Gaans-Gijbels of Mobility and Infrastructure have signed a letter of intent for the Three-Country Train. It contains agreements that make it possible for the train to run between Liège, Maastricht and Aachen in December of this year.

unique project

Now that the carriers involved (NMBS, NS, Arriva) have indicated that it is possible to run the train (financially, technically and in terms of capacity), the ministers are now also formally ordering the service via the letter of intent. to start up. The Three-Country Train is a unique project because the train runs every hour between Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The train connection connects the three border regions without transfer, making it easier for residents to take the train for work, school, family visits or recreation.

“If you live in a border region, it is important that good cross-border public transport ensures that you can work or follow a course throughout the region. But as logical as this sounds, in practice it is a huge job to realize. Trains have to be adapted, timetables have to be aligned, carriers have to work together. Thanks to everyone's efforts and perseverance, we ensure that this train can start moving. My special thanks go to the Belgian minister Georges Gilkinet with whom we have worked excellently to make this beautiful project possible. I am very proud of this unique project and look forward to traveling on the Three-Country Train myself in December.”

Within the Euregio area of ​​Liège-Maastricht-Aachen there is a great deal of mutual coherence and there are many daily traffic movements of people who cross the border for leisure, education or work. Better connections will allow the region's economy to grow even further.

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Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet

“With this Three-Country Train you can travel across borders even more smoothly. This project is an example for European rail integration. The fact that the different operators and policy levels work together so well for this is a real breakthrough. Travelers now get more destinations, more comfort and fully accessible trains – across national borders. This also fits in with the ambitions that we included in the new public service contract that the federal government concluded with NMBS in December 2022, to make rail the backbone of mobility, also between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.”

Currently, a train runs from Belgium between Liège and Maastricht once an hour. As of this year, a train will run twice an hour from the Netherlands between Maastricht and Germany: one to Aachen and one to Herzogenrath. The Three-Country Train links both connections so that a transfer at Maastricht is no longer necessary if you want to travel between the cities of these three countries. 

The new connection ensures that new direct connections are added. For example, Liège will be connected to Maastricht Randwyck (Maastricht UMC+ and MECC) and Heerlen (Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Brightland Campus) via the Three-Country Train. Thanks to the three-country train you can travel from the Netherlands to Liège and Aachen without a transfer. At both stations you can board a high-speed train, bringing cities such as Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels, London and Paris a lot closer. The Three-Country Train therefore also contributes to making the train more attractive as an alternative to short flights.

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“The province of Limburg already laid the foundations in 2016 to break through the borders by prescribing trains in the concession that can also run in neighboring countries. Now that we will finally start with the train to Liège in December 2023, we will finally really connect the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The three carriers are now joining forces and with that we can offer travelers a new top product in Limburg.”

A lot of work was done in the run-up to the Three-Country Train running in December. For example, the trains have been converted so that they can also run on the Belgian railways and agreements have been made about the deployment of both Dutch and NMBS personnel on the route. There are still a number of practical points to be addressed, including what exactly ticket sales and rates will look like.

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