Our second train of the trip, from Brussels Midi to Amsterdam Centraal, is called The Thalys. It is another “bullet train”, very similar in construction to the Eurostar we will have just got off from London St Pancras. At it’s peak, it will be shifting at a stunning 300 km/h. The name Thalys doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just a creation from a Belgian marketing company. The trains are second generation TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), and are rather flashy
Our route will travel on normal speed lines (100 mph) up to Antwerp. As we approach the city we enter a mile long tunnel which runs under Antwerp itself. On leaving we pick up HSL4 (Hogesnelheidslijn 4), which runs 40 km up to the Dutch border, before it turns into the HSL Zuid, or High Speed Line South. That runs all the way via Rotterdam to Amsterdam. Along the way we will cross the Rhine river delta south of Rotterdam, consisting of the Waal, Nederrijn and Ijssel rivers. We have to drop back onto normal track just before Rotterdam to enter the city, but on leaving and for the rest of the route it is all high speed track which was only opened in 2009. The train stops off at Schipol airport before arriving at Amsterdam Centraal.