Off to Trainworld, Brussels – Train vs Plane
In this… comparison.
- A Surreal weekend Out
- Early Morning Virgin Trains and St Pancras International
- Eurostar ES9116 London St Pancras to Brussels Midi (Standard Premier)
- Crowne Plaza Le Place, Roiger, Brussels
- Enjoying time in Brussels and Leuven
- Off to Trainworld
- Back to Brussels Airport, British Airways Terraces Lounge
- BA399 Brussels National Airport to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- Heading back to Marylebone, and heading home
- Train vs Plane? Which wins in this round?
After an evening of being in surreal places, it was time to be more surreal and look at Belgian Trains and railway history at TrainWorld in Schaarbeek.
Now I could take the actual train there – or be lazy, and take the tram that would go directly there, which was a short walk from the hotel.
Well, that’s a hard choice.
With a walk up to Botanique tram stop, I jumped on a 51 tram over to Schaarbeek. And there are good reasons to take the tram on routes like this – as you get a feel for local life, and how people live as you cross from the edge of central Brussels to one of its outskirts, crossing through Hungarian and Turkish communities.
It’s an interesting ride. Not colourful – just interesting.
With the tram stopping at Schaarbeek tram stop, it was a short walk to Trainworld.
Trainworld is the national museum for NBMS/SNCB and was opened in 2015, using parts of the historic Schaarbeek station, and a new-build guided walk-through exhibit.
Through into the old station, there were multiple exhibits.
And Lego Play stations. Not much rail Lego though… And yes. It is a thing
Once you’ve explored the old station, you have to head out to get to the next bit of the exhibit.
Once you enter the main exhibit, it’s akin to an Ikea rabbits warren to the exit, as it guides you through the ages of trains in Belgium.
I like the presentation here – by raising the trains it adds something to the view.
There are connecting routes through the halls, with some interesting exhibits.
Exiting this hall, we come to the second hall, where a Type 12 train is displayed in a rather good way – with “steam” coming out of it
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It’s a simple effect but adds so much to the scene.
Moving on we come to the post-war years, where commuter trains become facts of life, as is the daily life in Belgium.
Moving into the next hall, things turn more modern with the Royal Train and The Trans Europe Express. Not the Kraftwerk song, but one of the carriages from the train
Although any excuse for Kraftwerk.
The Trans Europe Express brand faded in 1995, with the IC Networks and High-Speed Trans-Europe trains appeared in the form of Thalyes, Eurostar, the TGV network and the DB ICE network, providing a high-speed backbone that Europe needed.
Once you clear this section, you can head upwards and go through the upper gallery to get great views of the museum
There are also models on the way, including cutaway models of trains
Eventually, you pop out into daylight and some examples of modern
Overall: I like the interactivity and thought that has been put in this museum. Some exhibits like how the Class 12 train is showing with the head of steam is a really good use of the space, as is the railwayman’s cottage.
From here, you’re in the shop. And of course, the exit is via the gift shop
Overall: I also loved how it was guided through the ages of Belgium rail, and presented mostly in four languages throughout – making it very accessible.
I would have liked more free-roaming areas (so you could cross back/cross forward at will), without the Ikea style maze – however, that’s a small moan.
As we look how transit networks, lines, dots and routes develop in aviation, it’s always interesting to see how others have done this beforehand, and what food for thought it gives.
Highly recommended as a visitors activity that has something for all ages.
Next: Back to Brussels Airport
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