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Brussels visit then to Berlin

Texas
Level Contributor
42 posts
232 reviews
Brussels visit then to Berlin

My wife and I will be using a Eurail Global Pass during our vacation. We will arrive in Brussels from London in the morning and stay for one night before leaving to Berlin the next morning.

Our hotel will be very close to Brussels Central and I understand when we arrive at Brussels Midi that our ES ticket will be good to get on any IC train from Midi to Central.

1) When we get to Brussels from London, will we get a passport stamp before leaving the station?

2) On the day we leave, does Central station have its own security and passport control where we would only need to change trains at Midi?

3) What time should we leave from Central to get to Midi if we want to make the 07:28 Thalys 9401 train comfortably?

4) Should we use local transit to get back to Midi and go through security/passport control there instead?

Thanks.

4 replies to this topic
Lier, Belgium
Level Contributor
583 posts
10 reviews
1. Re: Brussels visit then to Berlin

Hello. as for 1) I don"t think so, I don't get a stamp when I go to UK, not sure why you'd get one coming to Belgium. 2) no there are only controls at Brussel Zuid and not every hour of everyday. 3) you basically have trains between these 2 cities every 10 min and it takes 5 min travel time so count on half an hour and add a little bit in case there are indeed checks at Thalys. 4) local transit is train from centraal to zuid.

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
37,228 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Brussels visit then to Berlin

It's a shame you are using Eurail passes, which don't (fully anyway) cover Eurostar or Thalys! You'd have done better to buy individual tickets early enough to get one of the cheaper fare levels.

1) There is no passport control on arrival at Bruxelles-Midi, you go through both UK exit control (if they bother) and French entry control at London St. Pancras International. France is the first Schengen country you enter, at the other end of the Channel Tunnel, so it is French border officials who are responsible for Schengen entry controls in this instance. When you then arrive in Brussels from France, this is an internal movement and you have already been through the external checks.

2) No, IF you had been taking Eurostar, which is the only train that could be leaving Schengen, and that requires systematic security checks (because of the Channel Tunnel), you would have had to leave Gare centrale early enough to reach Gare du Midi at least 30 minutes before Eurostar departure. You don't say where your particular Thalys is travelling to (much more useful to know than the train number, although it seems yours is to Cologne, Düsseldorf and Essen) but Germany is also a Schengen country so this is like a domestic trip, with no passport control. Security checks on entry to the Thalys platform are possible, see https://www.b-europe.com/EN/Disruptions - but quite rare, and they take only a few minutes.

3) You probably want to arrive at Midi around 07:00 hrs to have plenty of time to find the platform (3) and your carriage and seats, as well as for possible security checks, so at the latest, the 06:56 train to Braine-le-Compte (arr. Bruxelles-Midi 07:00). The one before that is 06:53, arr. Bruxelles-Midi 06:57, and it terminates at that station. As you can see, trains run every few minutes (from even numbered platforms at Gare centrale - 2, 4 or 6; both of those mentioned are from 4) and take 3-4 mins.

4) Don't know what you mean by "local transit", but of course your train ticket Brussels to wherever this is in Germany covers the train from Central to Midi just as the one from London to Brussels covered the train from Midi to Central. But you presumably know that given Q3!

There is no passport control on departure from Belgium for any Thalys destination, which can only be in Germany, France or the Netherlands (all Schengen members). Security checks are only carried out at Gare du Midi, which is the only Brussels station Thalys trains depart from, and are only systematic for Eurostar.

Edited: 25 December 2017, 01:24
Texas
Level Contributor
42 posts
232 reviews
3. Re: Brussels visit then to Berlin

Hello and thanks for your responses. I have read about the Shengen Agreement but completely forgot about that until I read it here, so thank you for explaining that. We have not purchased our Eurail pass yet and I have since learned about the Seat 61 website. We will probably purchase our train tickets individually now but we are comparing the options. Thanks again.

Texas
Level Contributor
42 posts
232 reviews
4. Re: Brussels visit then to Berlin

This post thread will help me sleep much better tomorrow night. I completely forgot about this question and forgot about passport controls in Brussels, and we are now in Berlin. We did not use the Eurail pass after all and decided to purchase all our trains individually. By the way, Brussels is beautiful and we want to visit again. The trouble was that I thought we never got Schengen entry controls and would now have to address it in Berlin and possibly face big trouble for being in 3 countries without proper entry control. However, we both received LFT Londres stamps at St. Pancras to cover our entry through France so there is nothing to worry about now. It was when I went back over this message thread in the middle of the night that made me go back and look at my passport. All this to say thank you for the very helpful information. It will save us from a lot of unnecessary stress.

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