The Belgian rail system is well integrated with the rest of Europe’s rail system. It consists of two parts – SNCB (the rail operator) and Infrabel (the railway maintainer). Private freight railway operators and passenger train operators also run over the Belgian rail system.
SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges) is the national railway of Belgium. It was created in 1926 as part of a drive to nationalize Belgian railways. This nationalization was completed in 1958.
During the 1950s SNCB resumed electrification plans, interrupted during World War 2. The majority of Belgian railway lines are electrified.
In 2005 the railway infrastructure portion of SNCB was spun off into a separate company, allowing for private rail operators to run over Belgian railways. This was done in response to new European Union regulations requiring a separation of the national railway operator and the railway infrastructure manager.
SNCB operates the national rail passenger trains.
The physical infrastructure is owned by Infrabel, almost entirely owned by the Belgian state. Infrabel is responsible for the railway infrastructure, and also controlling rail traffic over the rail network.
Infrabel was created in 2005 as part of the liberalization of Belgian railway infrastructure.
Blog posts on Belgian railways: