An interesting alliance has emerged – with Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) Thalys and NS Dutch Railways joining forces to start to replace flights between Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol through an Air&Rail service.
Currently, KLM offers five flights a day between the two cities. One of thee flights will be dropped, with the seating capacity instead being made available on a Thalys service
The new service will roll out from 29th March 2020
The three parties are working to reduce flights between Amsterdam and Brussels, whilst offering a product that should match its current appeal to customers.
KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers said:
Intermodal transport involving trains and planes remains a complex and challenging business. Speed is key, not only in terms of the train itself but also the transfer process at the airport. We aim to make maximum progress in both areas. Reducing our frequency from five to four flights a day is a good way of gaining more experience with Air&Rail services.
One Flight A Day – It’s a start.
Whilst the rail speeds between Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol aren’t the fastest – there is plenty of scope for this service with journeys taking between 1 hour 45 and 2 hours by train. A number well inside the magic 3-hour window where train becomes competitive to Air
Of course, four frequencies remain for the business traveller who has no time in the morning to faff around with a train, or for the connecting passenger who is connecting too and from long haul flights.
However, the distance and length of journey of Amsterdam Schiphol to Brussels makes it a perfect candidate for a shift from airplane to rail (also creating a true high-speed rail link between the two cities would help… a lot – a lot of the track allows for “accelerated” services, save for the HSL-Zuid from the Belgian/Nederlands border and HSL4 between Antwerp Central and the border)
Of course, the upside to releasing slots like this is that long haul services can take the place.
To make a service like this work, there will need to be a mixture of dedicated capacity and “turn up and go” on the Thalys side of the equation to allow passengers to move effortlessly from Air to Rail.
But it’s a start. And for Air&Rail to take off, it will need both support of airlines and rail operators to make it work.
And providing the high speed links exist to take people from A to B, it’s a chance to remove some of the more annoying short-haul flying legs and switch to a more comfortable way of travelling.
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