Dutch railways NS wants to replace the rolling stock of the Benelux trains, with a new train expected to enter commercial service in 2025. The first Coradia ICNG train, by French company Alstom, has been in Belgium since June where it is being tested. Once in use, the self-propelled trains could run at a maximum speed of 200 km/h on the Dutch and Belgian high-speed lines.
1. New suppliers and trains
French manufacturer Alstom won the tender to supply 79 trains from the “Coradia Stream” range for the Dutch InterCity Next Generation (ICNG) back in May 2016, and in November 2018 Alstom and the NS formalised the opening of a new assembly line for these ICNG trains, located at Alstom’s Katowice plant in Poland. In 2019, 18 “Benelux” trains were added to the order by the NS, a “Belgian version” which has a luggage space and additional toilets as well as some technical variations.
2. Testing the train in Belgium
At the beginning of June one of these new trains, the “3301”, arrived straight from the factory, to Belgium via Aachen and was taken to the workshop in Forest (Brussels-Midi). The train is 165 metres long, can carry nearly 400 passengers, and is equipped with European ERTMS / ETCS, Dutch ATB EG and Belgian TBL 1+ security systems. Static tests in Schaerbeek, Brussels, were started a few days later for approval on the Infrabel network. From late June until July, the first tests were conducted on the line L94 between Ath and Silly, which is the traditional Belgian test site.
Should the trains enter service as planned, NS will stay as the owners with SNCB/NMBS marketing just the Benelux trains. At the moment, the service between Amsterdam and Brussels uses trains of 7 Dutch cars and TRAXX locomotives, running at 160 km/h on the high-speed line between Antwerp and Breda, and between Breda, Rotterdam and Schiphol. In the future it is hoped that the ICNGs will operate the same service but at speeds of 200 km/h and offering much better comfort.