Rail travellers heading for Cologne this summer should prepare for revised rail timetables (photo © Hiro1775).
This article was updated on 22 April 2015.
Sometimes a temporary alteration in timetables can have repercussions on travel itineraries across a wide area. And that’s just what will happen this summer when engineering work between Aachen and Cologne will mean significantly extended travel times on journeys crossing the Belgian-German border at Aachen.
For a six-week period 27 June to 9 August 2015, most trains between Brussels and Cologne will be timetabled to take at least an hour longer for their journeys. The route is served by two high-speed operators: Thalys and Deutsche Bahn (DB).
Thalys have some fabulously complicated timetables that vary almost by the day during this period. Full details are given in a dedicated page on the Thalys website. Do note that some Thalys services which would ordinarily continue beyond Cologne to Düsseldorf, Duisburg and Essen will terminate at Cologne.
Deutsche Bahn has recast its ICE timetable on the Cologne-Brussels axis for this six-week period. This ICE link is popular with passengers using DB’s London-Spezial fare for journeys between London and Germany — changing between DB and Eurostar at Brussels Midi.
ICE Timings will be as follows:
|Cologne Hbf||Brussels Midi|
|dep. 06.45||arr. 09.35|
|dep. 09.43||arr. 12.35|
|dep. 14.43||arr. 17.35|
|dep. 19.43||arr. 22.35|
|Brussels Midi||Cologne Hbf|
|dep. 06.25||arr. 09.15|
|dep. 10.25||arr. 13.15|
|dep. 13.00||arr. 16.15|
|dep. 18.25||arr. 21.09|
Passengers who have for years been used to taking Eurostar 9126 just before 11 in the morning from London to Brussels to connect there onto the 14.25 to Cologne and Frankfurt will find that there is no convenient onward ICE connection from Brussels during that six-week period.
Our advice is to start two hours earlier from London, using Eurostar 9116 from St Pancras to Brussels. This train arrives in Brussels just after midday, giving a comfortable connection onto the 13.00 ICE departure to Cologne.
The extended journey times on the Cologne-Brussels leg will mean that passengers undertaking longer itineraries from Germany to London will need to check that same-day connections are indeed still possible.
Many Londoners have become accustomed to making far-flung journeys via Germany to far-distant points on the continent within a single day — utilising a combination of DB’s great-value advance purchase tickets.
With an early start from London (on the Eurostar which leave St Pancras at 06.50 Mondays to Fridays or at 06.57 on Saturdays), it would normally be perfectly possible to travel via Belgium to Germany to reach the following destinations by late the same evening. But note that none of these routings will be possible in summer 2015.
Passengers will not be able to secure a same-day arrival on journeys from London to:
Passengers embarking on such journeys will generally need to make an overnight stop along the way. In some instances, it is possible to continue travelling beyond midnight on various trains to secure an arrival at the final destination in the early hours of the following morning.
About The Authors
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.