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Thalys now directly connects Lille and Amsterdam in just 2 hours and 40 minutes

Nearly 200,000 customers per year to be expected


Lille is now connected directly to the city of Amsterdam in just 2 hours and 40 minutes. A Thalys train novelty that will equally seduce the Dutch, quite many to visit or work in the region, as well as Lille inhabitants who want to discover the land of tulips.



Franck Gervais, CEO of Thalys appends his signature on the first direct train from Lille to Amsterdam. Photo Maxime Dufour.
Franck Gervais, CEO of Thalys appends his signature on the first direct train from Lille to Amsterdam. Photo Maxime Dufour.
The train station of Europe Lille proudly bears its name.

Since Saturday, April 12, 2014 , Thalys directly connects the capital of Flanders with the city of Amsterdam in just 2 hours and 40 minutes. A line that also passes through Brussels, Anvers, Rotterdam and Schiphol.

This revolution should reduce travel time from 15 to 20 minutes, but will also save passengers the hassle of changing trains, thus reducing the chances of missing a correspondence.

Thalys hopes to attract around 200,000 clients per year, with tickets starting at 29 euros.

While the group hopes to fill up its train in both directions, market studies show that there are more Dutch passengers coming to Lille than the reverse.

Moreover, the departure times from Amsterdam are more practical, allowing to make a round-trip in one day, unlike those leaving from Lille.

During the week, Lille passengers can take the train at 9:06 p.m. and 11:59 am (10:06 am on Saturday and 9:06 p.m on Sunday.)

"These times are not fixed and will change depending on demand" ensures Franck Gervais, director of Thalys International.

Persuade the French to fly out of the Schiphol Airport

Another line of development: the Schiphol Airport, served in 2 hours and 25 minutes.

While it is still farther than Charles de Gaulle airport, it is only 55 minutes from Lille. However Schiphol gives access to the KLM network, complementary to that of Air France.

Thalys also offers an air-rail fare, which attracted around 70,000 passengers last year from Brussels and Anvers.

"This is a wonderful product of the future that we will work on and promote on the French market," continues Franck Gervais.

This diversification strategy is vital for the company. It must indeed attract and retain customers to cope with the new incoming competition in 2016. A perspective that does not intimidate Franck Gervais.

"The potential market for our catchment areas is 40 million customers and we enable 7 million to travel per year. Meaning there is room to grow the pie." he assures.
To welcome the first 200 travelers from Amsterdam, the Lille-Europe train station was decorated with hundreds of tulips. DR
To welcome the first 200 travelers from Amsterdam, the Lille-Europe train station was decorated with hundreds of tulips. DR

The RTC wants to seduce the Dutch

The arrival of a direct train from Amsterdam to Lille is an opportunity that the Regional Tourism Committee of Nord-Pas de Calais did not want to miss.

Its team published a mini-brochure and distributed over 7,500 copies inside Thalys.

It features the tourist attractions of the city of Lille, but also of the entire region: the Louvre museum in Lens (30 minutes by train), the sites of the Arras war, or seaside resorts up north.

"The Dutch are very fond of short urban trips. The new direct train will certainly contribute to the development of tourism in the region," exclaims Claire Beaufromé, marketing manager.

Indeed, visitors from the Netherlands are one of the top three nationalities to explore the region, with almost 60,000 visitors for 91,430 overnights.

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 16/04/2014
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