How to Nab a Seat on the Train from Brussels

Lately, I’ve had to shuttle from The Hague to Brussels every week. I’m a regular visitor to the NS International website and can say that their train apps are pretty decent. Download it onto your phone and you’ll be able to check schedule changes, platforms, and delays in real-time. The direct Intercity train from The Hague Holland Spoor to Brussels Central takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes and starts at around €42 return. There are a few different routes, some with several changes and some on the high-speed Thalys train (not direct).

Last week, upon leaving Brussels, I landed in a jam-packed carriage and managed to nab the last seat (facing backwards, interloping on a group of Flemish teenage girls playing ‘Who am I’) while more than 20 passengers wobbled around with their suitcases, guitars, yoga mats clogging the aisles. A strange experience for me as I’m not used to seeing people standing on long-distance trains.

Standing Leads to a Longer Life

This week, I devised a [half-baked] strategy. I waited right at the front of Platform 5 instead of milling around the middle. The train came to a stop 20 metres before me. Oops. I scurried past the chunky gents in pinstripes boarding leisurely in first class. (FYI, first and second class is substantially the same, except the former is not as crowded and a bit more legroom). Bunches of anxious commuters were forming barricades around the gates. I hopped onto the first class carriage, connected into economy through the internal doors, slithered past the crowds and grabbed the first seat I could see. No faffing around with optimal sun angle this time.

I am still waiting for a direct high-speed train service to Brussels. Apparently, it’s coming soon.

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