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Brussels Gare du Noord Railway Station at Night - concerns

I will be a single passenger travelling in very early April and my preferred choice of routing involves connecting at Brussels Gare du Noord Railway station. Unfortunately these connections are not at the most popular time. Outward I expect to arrive at 0515 on a Tuesday and leave on an ICE train at 0633 and then returning I will arrive at 2126 Saturday evening and leave at 0015 Sunday morning - nearly three hours later. Both are very unusual times.

I have read so much about pick pockets, beggars etc that I am not sure if this is sensible. Is there a café, secure seating or something similar open at these times on the station? I have looked at the ones that I can find out about & all have very limited opening hours and are closed when I will be there. So...

1) Is it sensible to be there at all
2) How do I make it less onerous/ more pleasurable.

Posted by
12040 posts

I guess my first question would be this.... why are you traveling by train at such late hours? Especially through Brussels, which isn't on any train line where traveling at night would make any sense (not that night trains are a good option in most cases).

But to answer your question more directly, I have not been at Brussel Noord late at night, but I have at other times of the day. On one side of the tracks, you have a small red light district. On the other (the side with the station), it's mostly a business and government district, meaning that gets pretty dead at night. But train stations are usually a pretty safe, if not completely pleasent place to whilie away a few hours.

Posted by
18 posts

Its a long story but it goes something like this.

I booked my accommodation several months ago but I would now like extra time at my destination. I cannot extend my hotel booking as they are full. If I fly or go by train I get there late afternoon & then start my return by lunch time thus loosing a day each way. If I get an overnight coach from London to Brussels & then the ICE from Brussels I can be in Dortmund by around 1000, or fit in an intermediate stop (Wuppertal overhead railway), giving me the extra day that I want. Same story returning home as I don't need to leave until 1800 and no long check in at airports etc so effectively 2 extra days.

I can sleep it off when I get home.

Posted by
15578 posts

Check your times. If you are on the Megabus from Victoria station, it shows arrival at Brussels Noord at 6:05, so you don't have all that much time on the way. Plus, it will be rush hour.

Posted by
18 posts

Going on a Monday:
Eurolines coach leaves London Victoria 20:00 (Monday time only) arrives Brussels Nord 05:15
ICE at 0633 arrives Cologne 0815 - if I miss the connection there is a Flix Bus if necessary
Train 0825 arrives Wuppertal 0909.
Dortmund after 4+hrs (to be decided)
Whole train journey Brussels - Wuppertal - Dortmund €19!!!

Return on Saturday:
Leave Dortmund 1737 arrive Cologne 1846 - Train
Leave 1943 arrive Brussels 2126 - Train
Megabus at 0015 (Sunday) arrives London 0730

Posted by
4445 posts

I'm not clear why you are choosing an overnight bus rather than a flight. Why not fly (e.g., to Duesseldorf or even Köln). and take the train from there? That should make the whole thing less onerous.

Posted by
18 posts

Yes it does make it less onerous but using cheap flights I also arrive much later on day 1 and depart much earlier on the last day. I effectively can use both days with my schedule but can use neither if I fly. As I said my hotel is pretty fixed & paid for. I am not starting in London so I also need to be able to get to/ from the flight in the UK. Where I live getting a coach/train to London - where the Brussels coaches run from - is so much easier than getting to an airport that flies to Germany at a tolerable price. Check in times also make the flight much slower than it appears. I have also considered a train for the entire journey but I cannot get to London to catch a train that will get me to Dortmund until late afternoon and much the same problem with a very early departure on the last day if I am not to get marooned somewhere overnight.

A late afternoon coach to London going & a breakfast coach from London returning, which stop a couple of miles from where I live, are easy. Believe it or not I have thought this out & it works for me if Brussels Nord is "safe " when I will be there. All the recommendations about avoiding eye contact etc are fine if you are passing through but tough if you are there for 3 hours.

So back to the original question. Is it reckless to be around Brussels Nord very early morning and late evening?

Posted by
12104 posts

Hi,

I'll comment on Dortmund Hbf and Köln Hbf. I know them both. The times you'll be there between are fine, ie, between 1700-1900. I went to Köln Hbf to have dinner on this last trip end of May/June 2016. Pickpockets and beggars in Dortmund Hbf and Köln Hbf I didn't see any, much more likely in Frankfurt Hbf where I saw "them" at the station. . Listen to the loudspeakers, which calls attention to "them" on the premises.

Posted by
18 posts

Fred

Thank you for that information.

I have gathered that there is not much knowledge of Brussels Nord late at night nor early in the morning. That tells me something - it will probably be quiet!

Posted by
12104 posts

@ Elder....You're welcome. You can bet on seeing both Dortmund Hbf and Köln Hbf (where I was in May 2016) at the times you list ca. 1700-1900, two man German police patrols standing or walking around. If not the actual police, then the yellow jacketed DB personnel with "Sicherheit" (security) on the back of it. Plus, since migrant crisis starting in Sept 2015, there have been a proliferation in the Hauptbahnhöfen (train stations) of these red and blue " SOS Notstellen" (emergency stands) with instructions in German and English so that you can be talking to the police.directly. These Notstellen can be found on the train platforms as well as in the stations....all over. I was in Germany in 2014 and 2015 both times end of May/June , yes, the Notstellen were present, what struck me, if you know what to look for, going back this past June, ie, first time after the migrant crisis, was how numerous these "stands" had become....lots.

Posted by
1463 posts

Hi Elder,

You talk about an ICE train what is a German highspeed train, but I think after arriving with the bus you have to catch first a normal IC (Inter City) train to Luik-Guillemins / Liège-Guillemins to change there to a highspeed train. In that case you can take from Brussel-Noord / Bruxelles-Nord a 3min train to Brussels-Centraal / Bruxelles-Central with better and guess safer options to kill some time so early in the morning. Your train to Luik / Liège will also stop at the Centra(a)l station, so your train journey can start there instead of Brussel-Noord, no need buying an extra ticket. You can do the same for the trip back home.

As the majority of train lines in Belgium run through Brussels, trains stop at the three main stations there with the exception of highspeed trains stopping only at Brussel-Zuid / Bruxelles-Midi. This means there are numerous trains to catch between the stations, so in case you have a bad feeling about Noord you can reduce the time hanging around there to a minimum by going to Centraal. Depending how easy you can handle your luggage there are coin operating lockers at the stations in case you like to use them.

But check out first if the train for the leg to Liège is just a normal IC train or not. For timetables: http://www.belgianrail.be/en/Default.aspx

Good luck.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks for that.

The 0633 Brussels to Koln is an ICE but the following trains are IC via Liege - my ticket will be valid on the 0633 only.
The return is also a straight through ICE.

I hear what you say about the other Brussels stations but I do not think that the ICE trains stop at them.

I have found that the Eurolines office is open until midnight so that will give me somewhere to go in the evening if necessary. I very much doubt that there will be a problem at 0500.

Posted by
15578 posts

The ICE trains to/from Cologne stop at Noord and originate/terminate at Zuid.
You might try your question at Trip Advisor. Better chance of finding someone with detailed first hand experience of the station at night.