Thanks to its central location as a European trading center, Belgium has one of the world’s densest transport networks. The road network measures 118,414 kilometres, almost 1,800 of which are highways. The night-time highway lighting with 335,000 lamps on 150,000 masts was a unique feature of Belgium for many years and could also be easily seen from space. Now, however, the lights are gradually going out to save electricity.
Road freight transport volume was around 277.8 million tons in 2022. The work is still shared by more than 10,000 transport companies with over 85,000 vehicles.
Despite its small population, Belgium is one of the largest exporters of goods – also because of its good competitiveness (20th place in a global comparison). At the top of the list of exported goods are medical and pharmaceutical products, followed by road vehicles, petroleum and petroleum products. The most important trading partners are the neighbouring countries France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Impressive: the nighttime highway lighting. Photo: Freepik.
Belgium does not have a highway toll yet. Because of the high volume of foreign traffic, it has been under discussion for some time and has repeatedly caused heated debate. However, the use of certain sections must be paid for. For example, driving through the 1.37-kilometer Liefkenshoek Tunnel, which is part of the R2 ring road around Antwerp.
Chargeable: the trip through the 1.37-kilometer Liefkenshoek Tunnel near Antwerp. Photo: Freepik.
Severe penalties loom here
A special feature of Belgian cities are the low-emission zones with restricted or chargeable access for the most polluting vehicles. Cameras monitor these zones on the basis of license plates. Violations are severely penalized. In the Brussels region alone, 191 cameras are installed.
Top public transport
Belgium has a dense public transport network operated by the 3 following companies: STIB/MIVB in Brussels, De Lijn in Flanders and Transport en Commun (TEC) in Wallonia. Brussels has a subway-, streetcar- and bus network. Also in other big cities like Antwerp, Charleroi and Ghent, these networks are present. A railroad is under construction in Liège. The towns along the North Sea coast are also connected by the world’s longest intercity streetcar line, the “Kusttram”.
Do you miss the continuous nighttime lighting on Belgium’s highways yet? Tell us in a comment!