1846 - 2021
The 175th anniversary of the rail link between Brussels and London, via a sea crossing between Ostend and Dover.
The first time …
The Ostend - Dover packet: an invitation to travel
A Pullman-Express service between Ostend and Cologne ran from 1929 to 1939. It took about 10 hours to connect Ostend and Cologne.
The TEE Saphir ran from 1957 to 1979 between Ostend, Brussels and Frankfurt, via a route formerly used by the Ostend - Cologne Pullman Express. It was included in the InterCity network in 1979. The EuroCity network was opened on 31 May 1987 and the Saphir was replaced with the EC Memling.
International travel from Ostend
In 1894, a service known as the Ostend-Vienna-Express began to connect Ostend and Brussels to Vienna (Austria). In the summer of 1900, this line was linked up with the Orient Express, connecting Amsterdam to Bucharest via Cologne, Vienna and Budapest. Therefore the service became known as the Ostend-Vienna-Orient Express.
From 1896 to 1939, the Compagnie internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) operated the Paris – Ostend – Liège – Berlin - St Petersburg service. It was known as the Nord-Express.
This train service will be established again in 1993 under the name Euronight.
Why this sudden fall?
The JetFoil: an undoubted asset to the service
In 1981, as well as its traditional ferries, Belgium’s maritime transport company RMT began to operate Jetfoil passenger services. The JetFoil, a waterjet-propelled hydrofoil, was invented by Boeing.
This technology enabled RMT to cut the crossing time from 4 hours to 100 minutes. The JetFoils, for which an extra charge was payable, were popular with connecting railway passengers.
The 90s and the beginning of the end
After partnering with a number of companies (Sealink, Townsend Thoresen, P&O...), RMT changed its livery in 1990 and renamed itself RMT “Oostende-Dover”. In 1993, it joined forces with Sally Line, which decided to transfer its Dover terminal to Ramsgate. This marked the beginning of the end.
- Just before its 150th anniversary, the Ostend - Dover service was discontinued. On Friday 31 December 1993 at 1.30 p.m., the ferry Prins Filip made the very last crossing from Ostend to Dover.