In a bold move that could transform European rail travel, Czech railway company Leo Express has announced plans to launch a new railway link between Belgium and Slovakia, with the trains making stops in Germany and the Czech Republic along the way.
The ambitious proposal, outlined in notification plans submitted to the Belgian Rail Transport Regulatory Service (Regul) in August, envisions a daily service in both directions, aiming for a debut on December 15, 2024. However, the start of operations in Belgium might be slightly delayed until spring 2025.
The proposed journey, covering approximately 19 hours, will feature almost 50 stops, providing a comprehensive connection between major cities in Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
Leo Express plans to make eight stops in Belgium, including Ostend, Bruges, Ghent, all three stations in Brussels, Leuven, and Liège.
The journey continues through Germany with 20 stops, encompassing key cities such as Aachen, Cologne, Dortmund, Hanover, Leipzig, and Dresden.
Upon entering the Czech Republic, the train is expected to make more than ten stops, with a highlight being Prague’s capital city. Finally, in Slovakia, the train will stop in Kuty and Malacky before reaching its ultimate destination, Bratislava.
While the journey is estimated to take 19 hours, the day train will depart from Ostend at 06:15, making stops in Brussels Midi at around 07:22 and Hannover at approximately 13:45.
The train is anticipated to arrive in Prague at 20:00 before reaching its final destination at 01:13. The return journey will mirror this schedule, with the train coming into Ostend 20 minutes later at 01:37.
Leo Express holds valid safety certificates for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, and its parent company possesses a valid safety certificate for operations in Germany.
However, Leo Express lacks certification for operations in Belgium, stating in its notification plans that it plans to collaborate with a railway undertaking holding the necessary safety certificate for Belgium.
Interestingly, part of Leo Express’ proposed route, specifically the section between Dresden and Prague, overlaps with a route that European Sleeper night trains are set to operate in the coming months.
Currently running from Brussels to Berlin via Amsterdam, European Sleeper plans to extend its services to Dresden and Prague from the end of March 2024.
Leo Express’s ambitious project represents a significant step forward in European rail connectivity, offering a comprehensive and efficient link between Western and Eastern Europe.
The potential for increased cross-border travel and tourism is evident, and the project aligns with broader efforts to enhance sustainable transportation options on the continent.
As the proposed launch date approaches, all eyes will be on Leo Express and its collaborators as they work to bring this transformative railway link to fruition, providing a new and exciting chapter in the story of European rail travel.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members