Belgium was heavily involved in the early development of rail transport. Belgium was the second country in Europe, after Great Britain, to open a railway and produce locomotives. The first line, between the cities of Brussels and Mechelen opened in 1835. Belgium was the first state in Europe to create a national rail network and the first to possess a nationalized railway system. The network expanded fast as Belgium industrialised, and by the early 20th century was increasingly under state-control. The nationalized railways, under the umbrella organization National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS/SNCB), retained their monopoly until liberalization in the 2000s.
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