- Brussels served as the point of arrival of the first railroad on the European continent with completion of a rail link from Mechelen, inaugurated on 5 May 1835. The train proceeded at 20 km per hour (12 mph) and English engineer and locomotive builder George Stephenson (1781-1848) traveled as a guest of honor. Early trains consisted of open carriages and departures were announced by the blowing of a bugle.Additional lines followed rapidly and, within 10 years, the city constituted the central axis for lines running north to south from Antwerp to Namur and west to east from Ghent to Liège. The first international connection was completed in 1843 with service to the Rhineland, followed in 1846 with a link to France. Early construction and operation were undertaken by the Belgian government followed by a period from 1844 to 1870 under private ownership. The government again resumed control after 1870. By 1860, railway passengers to Brussels surpassed 1 million.The Allée Verte was the first railway station in Brussels. The Gare du Nord and Gare du Midi followed quickly. The Gare du Quartier Leopold, in Ixelles, designed by Gustave Saintenoy, opened in 1855. The Gare Centrale was inaugurated in 1952. The Schuman station, located adjacent to the European Union institutions, provides local, national, and international services.Railroads became electrified beginning with the line from Brussels to Charlero n 1949. The rest of the Belgian network followed in the 1950s.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.