Thalys: Wikis


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Thalys logo.png
Thalys PBKA Refurbished Nederland.jpg
Franchise(s): International joint operation
service began 1996
Main stations(s): Paris Nord,
Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid,
Amsterdam Centraal
Köln Hbf
Other stations(s): Antwerpen-Centraal, Bruges, Chaleroi-Sud, Ghent-Sint-Pieters, Liège-Guillemins, Mons, Namur, Ostend, Aachen Hauptbahnhof, Albertville, Bourg-St-Maurice, Moûtiers, Chambery-Challes-Les-Eaux, Schiphol, Rotterdam Centraal
Fleet size: 9[1] Thalys PBA sets
17 Thalys PBKA sets
Stations called at: 26
Parent company: SNCF, NMBS/SNCB, Deutsche Bahn
Web site:
  Thalys route map
Interchange head
Amsterdam Centraal
Airport Station on track
Interchange on track
Rotterdam Centraal
Restricted border on track
Netherlands-Belgium border
Station on track
Antwerpen-Centraal Antwerp
Head stop Straight track
Oostende Ostend
Stop on track Straight track
Brugge Bruges
Stop on track Straight track
Gent Sint Pieters Ghent
Track turning left Junction from right Interchange head
Köln Hbf Rhein-Ruhr S-Bahn Cologne
Straight track Station on track
Aachen Hbf Aix-la-Chapelle
Straight track Restricted border on track
Germany-Belgium border
Straight track Station on track
Liège Guillemins
Junction from left Junction to right
Interchange on track Straight track
Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid Brussels Metro Brussels
Straight track Stop on track
Namur Namur
Straight track Stop on track
Charleroi Sud Charleroi
Straight track Stop on track
Mons Mons
Junction from left Track turning right
Restricted border on track
BelgiumFrance border
Junction to left Track turning from right
Interchange end Straight track
Paris-Nord Paris Métro Réseau express régional Transilien
Track turning from left Junction to right
Straight track Abbreviated in this map
Thalys Neige winter weekly service
Straight track Continuation forward
towards Bourg Saint Maurice Bourg
Abbreviated in this map
Thalys Soleil summer weekly service
Continuation forward
towards Marseilles Saint Charles

Thalys is an international high-speed train operator originally built around the high-speed line between Paris and Brussels. This track is shared with Eurostar trains that go from Paris or Brussels to London via Lille and the Channel Tunnel and with French domestic TGV trains. Thalys reaches Amsterdam and Cologne, and its system is operated by Thalys International. Its capital is divided up between SNCF (62%), NMBS/SNCB (28%) and Deutsche Bahn (10%).



The decision to build a high-speed railway between Paris, Brussels, Cologne and Amsterdam was made in 1987. On 28 January 1993,[2] SNCF, NMBS/SNCB, NS and DB signed an agreement to jointly operate the axis through the brand Thalys, and in 1995 Westrail International was created by the French and Belgium national railways to operate the services. On 4 June 1996 the first train left Paris, taking 2:07 hours to Brussels and 4:47 hours to Amsterdam.[3]

On 14 December 1997 the LGV Nord and HSL 1 lines opened, allowing the travel time from Paris to Brussels to be reduced to 1:25 hours. At the same time service commenced to Cologne and Aachen in Germany, and Bruges, Charleroi, Ghent, Mons, Namur and Ostend in Belgium. On 19 December 1998 the Thalys Neige service started to the ski resorts of Tarentaise Valley and Bourg St. Maurice. In May 1999, the new high-speed line serving Charles de Gaulle Airport opened, and Thalys started direct services from the Airport to Brussels, including code sharing agreements with Air France, American Airlines and Northwest Airlines. On 28 November 1999, the company changed its name to Thalys International. In 2000, the Thalys Soleil started services to the summer resort Valence—this service was extended in 2002 to Marseille and Avignon. In 2003, services started to Brussels International Airport and the Thalys Nuits d’Eté service to Marne-la-Vallée. Deutsche Bahn purchased 10% of the company in 2007.[3] Since 14 June 2009 the journey between Brussels and Cologne has been shorter by nineteen minutes when a new high speed line (HSL 3) between Liège and Aachen opened. The new high-speed line was initially only used by Deutsche Bahn's thrice-daily ICE trains running between Brussels and Frankfurt. Although HSL 3 was completed in 2007, Thalys trains had at this time not yet been equipped with the modern signalling equipment necessary to use the new line. As a result, Thalys did not operate on the new link until December 13, 2009. For this same reason, Thalys did not start operating on the HSL 4/HSL-Zuid high-speed line between Antwerp and Amsterdam until 13 December 2009.


Beyond Brussels, the main cities Thalys trains reach are Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Liège, Bruges, Ghent, Charleroi, Aachen and Cologne. Trains to these destinations run partly on dedicated high-speed tracks, and partly on conventional tracks shared with normal-speed trains. The high-speed lines used by Thalys are HSL 1 between Paris and Brussels, HSL 4 and HSL-Zuid between Antwerp and Amsterdam, and the HSL 2 and HSL 3 between Brussels and Aachen. For its seasonal operations within France, other high-speed lines are used.

Plans to continue the line past Cologne to Frankfurt had to be abandoned because the power Germany's 15 kV electric system provides is insufficient for the Thalys train sets to operate at full speed on the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed rail line.[4][5]

Journeys from Brussels (Brussels-South) to Paris (Gare du Nord) are normally 1 hour, 22 minutes, for a distance of approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi). Peak speed is 300 km/h (186 mph) on a dedicated high-speed railway track.

The LGV (ligne à grande vitesse) link with Charles de Gaulle Airport allowed Air France to withdraw its air service between Paris and Brussels; instead, Air France books seats on Thalys trains.[6] Thalys has been given the IATA designator 2H. This is used in conjunction with American Airlines and Northwest Airlines. American Airlines has a code sharing agreement with Thalys for rail service from Charles de Gaulle airport to Brussels-South. The airline alliance SkyTeam also has a code sharing agreement with Thalys for rail service from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to Antwerp-Centraal and Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

Rolling stock

Thalys uses two models of trains, both of which are part of the TGV (train à grande vitesse) family of high-speed trains built by Alstom in France.

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Built   Notes 
 mph   km/h 
PBA Thalys 4537 à BSM.JPG Electric multiple unit 186 300 9[1] 1996 Tri-current; Operates only on the Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam route.
PBKA Thalys Heide.jpg Electric multiple unit 186 300 17 1997 Quadri-current; Operates on Paris-Brussels-Köln-Amsterdam route.

Accidents and Incidents

Thalys PBA near Dordrecht Zuid with a Paris-bound train
  • On 9 May 1998 a truck was struck by a Thalys PBKA on an unprotected level crossing; it had attempted to cross the tracks at the crossing when the train arrived. The truck driver was killed in the impact and the train's power unit and first two trailers derailed; the trainset was left heavily damaged. Six passengers were injured and tracks and catenary were broken in the incident. Trailers R1 and R2 had to be scrapped. The trainset was later repaired with the R1 and R2 trailers from a regular TGV trainset.
  • On 11 October 2008 a Thalys PBA set bound for Amsterdam collided with a local ICM train set at Gouda station in The Netherlands. The Thalys train set had been diverted via Gouda due to engineering work on its usual route. None of the passengers was seriously injured, but both trains incurred serious damage. An investigation concluded that staff of the local ICM was partly to blame as they left the platform whilst still under a red signal.[7][8]

See also

Thalys PBA and Thalys PBKA in Paris


  1. ^ a b "Thalys: Key figures". Thalys. Retrieved 2009-07-29.  
  2. ^ Thalys. "1976–1995 The train: economic development drive". Retrieved 2008-10-04.  
  3. ^ a b Thalys. "History". Retrieved 2008-10-04.  
  4. ^ "". 2009-03-07. Retrieved 2009-03-15.  
  5. ^ Alain Jeunesse and Michel Rollin (2004-03). "La motorisation du TGV POS" (in French). Retrieved 2007-07-04.  
  6. ^ United States Government Accountability Office (1994). Intermodal Transportation. DIANE Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 142893-337-9.  
  7. ^ "Accident". Retrieved 2008-10-11.  
  8. ^ "Rapport". Retrieved 2009-05-18.  

Further reading

  • Brunhouse, Jay (1999). Traveling Europe's Trains. Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 156554-854-x.  
  • Solomon, Brian (2001). Bullet trains. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 076030-768-7.  
  • International railway journal (2003). A star is born: International railway journal. Simmons-Boardman Pub. Corp.  

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