The first train ride of the European continent

The first European train ride is a historic event that took place on May 5, 1835. On that day the railway between the Belgian cities of Brussels and Mechelen was put into operation and a train ran on the European continent for the first time in history. The ride consisted of a convoy of three British-made steam locomotives that traveled the route one after the other with a total of 900 guests onboard. The distance between the two train stations was approximately 21 km.

Color print of the train ride by Armand Heins (1885)


The three trains ran in a convoy one after the other, each arriving five minutes after the other. The trains started their journey from one of the three end tracks in the Brussels station. The first train, the arrow, had seven open coaches with benches for people of good descent. The second train, the Stephenson, had seven open and seven closed carriages. The third train, the elephant, had sixteen open coaches with benches.

A replica of the elephant locomotive


After arriving in Mechelen, the thirty carriages were coupled together again for their return journey. A milestone was placed in Mechelen, which still acts today as the start point of the Belgian railway network. Pulled by locomotive the elephant, the 30 coaches returned to Brussels. However, the steam locomotive ran out of water and had to be refilled to complete its maiden run. The first train ride on the European mainland was now a fact.

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