Brussels IH Tour Day 2

Second (and last) day of my trip to Brussels as I fly home tomorrow. I visited the railway museum and the museum of mills and food.

As these are on the outer edge of Brussels, I checked out the public transport options, especially as there is both a railway station and tram terminus at the railway museum. The options appeared straight forward. There is a train station near the hotel at which I could buy the all day ticket and get a train to the railway museum. This would also allow me to use the tram back. The theory turned out better than the practice. At the train station, the ticket machine would not sell an all day pass unless you had the Brussels equivalent of the Leap card. The company’s website advised that a paper card version can be bought at railway stations, but no dice.

From the station, I walked to the tram route in order to see could I do the journey the other way around. The tram system in Brussels is effectively a bus on rails and the LUAS is world class in comparison. The tram “stations” are effectively bus stops with no option to buy a ticket and the trams run down the centre of the road with no platforms – passengers have to dodge road traffic to get between the bus stop shelter and the tram. This is how the Dublin city tram operated in the early 20th century, or in other words, Brussels trams are 100 years behind Dublin. As I couldn’t locate a tram stop with a ticket machine, I ended up walking to the railway museum.

The museum is interesting but its name “TrainWorld” gives away its main focus, which is trains and not railways. Most who know me know that the reason I have a site devoted to industrial heritage is that I have an interest in railways, but not trains. As such, Train World had less to offer me than might be otherwise expected.

The museum starts off in the original Schaerbeek station building with a display of scale models of Belgian steam locomotives. At the side of this hall, there is an example of an original ticket office with wood panelling and the windows through which tickets were sold. Behind these in the museum are further displays on tickets and staff uniforms.

A modern building adjacent has further exhibits, including original locomotives and carriages and a glass covered section of track to walk along, which ends at a screen showing a video taken from a locomotive cab, to give an impression of heading along the track. There is also a display of track types here.

Hall 2 is called the “Railway Attic” and contains a wide range of artifacts that didn’t fit in anywhere else in the museum. There is also a locomotive embedded in a sandpit at 45 degrees, the exact purpose of which I couldn’t determine.

Locomotive in sandpit
Locomotive in sandpit

 

After leaving Train World, I headed to the nearby Museum of Mills and Food. The emphasis of this is more the latter rather than the former and like the sewer museum, explanatory displays are in French and Flemish only. It is located in a former windmill.

Museum of Mills and Food
Museum of Mills and Food

On my way to the latter, I passed a tram line and station with ticket machine. I made a mental note of this to allow me to return to the city this way. When I got back to the tram station, the ticket machine, whilst notionally having the option to buy a single ticket, would not complete the sale. After multiple attempts (and losing money in the coin slot) I gave up and walked back into the city. It is a sad day when the public transport system in Dublin can be considered gold standard in comparison.

My last port of call of the day was to track down the Jeanneke Pis, which I did.

Jeanneke Pis
Jeanneke Pis

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