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SNCB heritage collection finds new home next to Train World

20:48 09/02/2023

Belgian rail operator SNCB will be moving its collection of historical artefacts to the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek.

The heritage department and documentation centre will be located next to the Train World museum, Bruzz reports.

“This will allow us to strengthen our heritage pool,” SNCB explained.

Artefacts include locomotives, uniforms, furniture, tools, stamps, medals, books and documents, all of which chronicle the history of trains in Belgium.

Currently, these items are spread throughout multiple storage facilities, often by type.

“The rolling stock, a total of one and a half kilometres, is spread across several depots in the country,” explained Thierry Denuit, who heads both Train World and the general heritage services.

“The building of the SNCB headquarters in Rue de France houses the entire historical archive, documents, coins, posters, photos and films.”

SNCB is moving its headquarters to a new building on Avenue Fonsny, next to the Gare du Midi, but Denuit said “it made little sense to move the heritage collection with it to that new building since the museum, where the collection is operated, is in Schaerbeek”.

The train operator is in the process of securing permits to convert the building next to Schaerbeek station and Train World into a heritage centre which would include a reading room, something Denuit explains is necessary because “we get 300 to 350 requests a year from people who want to do research”.

The ground floor will be used for public services and the upper floors will be for offices and collection rooms.

The building is currently being used by Infrabel, which manages the railway infrastructure, but it plans to move out by the end of the year.

“The public will be able to visit both the museum and the documentation centre,” said Denuit.

“The latter will be much more visible. Currently, people have to search for it in the basement of the building on Rue de France.”

The move will also result in more collaboration between the museum and the heritage collection team.

“Specialists, who are now in Rue de France, regularly come to do maintenance on our collection,” said Marijke Keersebilck of Train World. “That will be a lot easier in the future.”

Written by Helen Lyons