KLM Will Replace Amsterdam To Brussels Flights With A Railway Partnership

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has teamed up with NS Dutch Railways and French-Belgian high-speed train operator Thalys to replace flights between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) and Brussels. Starting in March of next year, KLM will replace one of its daily flights between Brussels Airport (BRU) and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) with a train service.

KLM E190 landing in Amsterdam
KLM wants to replace flights between Amsterdam and Brussels with trains. Photo: KLM

Over the past few months, KLM has been working with NS Dutch Railways and Thalys to come up with a way to replace flights between the two European capitals with trains. Despite being an airline, KLM is a big proponent of replacing short haul-flights with trains, providing the rail service matches the speed and comfort offered by air travel.

Schiphol Airport has more flights than Brussels

The decision to reduce the daily flights between Brussels and Amsterdam from five to four is the first step in the process of rail replacing air travel.

KLM E190
Air travel between Brussels and Amsterdam is for people fling out of Schiphol Photo: KLM

The Brussels to Schiphol route is primarily used by Belgium’s looking to catch an international flight out of the much bigger Schiphol Airport. In a press release from the Dutch national flag carrier 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.”

KLM says its all about the environment

According to KLM, the move is all part of what they call a commitment to“Fly Responsibly”, its aim for a sustainable future for air travel.

KLM E 190
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has an intercity rail station Photo: KLM

In its press release KLM defines its “Fly Responsibly” pledge with the following statement:

“Fly Responsibly” embodies KLM’s commitment to creating a sustainable future for air transport. It incorporates all of KLM’s current and future efforts to improve the sustainability of its activities. But true progress can only be achieved if the entire sector cooperates. With “Fly Responsibly”, KLM invites consumers to opt for CO2 compensation services, while companies are invited to compensate for business travel via the KLM Corporate BioFuel Program.

Besides playing the environmental card, KLM is facing slot restriction at Schiphol Airport. By replacing some short-haul routes with rail, it frees up slots for long-haul flights. To ensure that the new rail service is as smooth as possible, KLM is setting up a special Air&Rail check-in desk at Schiphol Airport.

Traveling by air has become a hassle

Traveling short distances between cities in Europe by train is certainly starting to harm air travel, and not just because people think it is better for the planet.

Thalys train
It takes 1hr 33 mins to get from Brussels to Schiphol Airport by train. Photo: Alfenaar Wikimedia Commons

Trains take you from the city center to the city center and not some airport that involves a tedious journey into the city.

Then, of course, there are the security checks, delays and cancellations to deal with. In continental Europe, for the most part, trains run on time and are more spacious and comfortable than short-haul airplanes.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is unique in that it has its own intercity train stain directly underneath the main terminal. The airport train station is also a stop on the high-speed Thalys Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam line. Boarding the train at Brussels Midi Station, you arrive at Schiphol Airport in one hour and 33 minutes.

According to Business Traveler, the KLM Cityhopper, by contrast, is one of the most expensive routes per mile that you can fly, quoting a single ticket as being 402€ for the 108-mile flight. This certainly seems way too much to pay for such a short journey, with most passengers using the Schiphol leg as a stopover before catching another flight.

Currently, KLM operates an E190 single-aisle regional jet between Brussels and Amsterdam with a flight time of just 45 minutes.

Given the choice when traveling between cities in Europe do you prefer or take the train or fly? Please let us know in the comments.