BELGIUM - While Belgium is dying, Pascal Verbeken walks back to the era of Great Expectations. He makes a hike along the Grand Central Belge, the nineteenth-century private railway line that linked Wallonia with Flanders. An artery of triumphant Belgium, about 200 kilometres long.

Belgium was once a land of promise. An industrial world power. A beacon of progress and entrepreneurship. The engine of this little miracle was the iron road, the most developed railway network on the European continent.

The hike leads past ghost stations in the Ardennes, industrial districts in Charleroi, parcels of land in Flemish Brabant and migrant neighbourhoods in Mechelen, the city where the Belgian railway adventure once began. With a keen eye, Verbeken records the small and big signs of the times. He listens to a colourful collection of Belgians - often from migration - who have a unique, sometimes tragic connection with Belgian history. What did they mean for Belgium? And what does the disappearing Belgium mean to them?

Pascal Verbeken

Pascal Verbeken (1965) is a Belgian writer, journalist and documentary maker.
€ 15.000 allocated on 28/11/2011.


  • Title: Grand Central Belge
  • Subtitle: Voetreis door een verdwijnend land
  • Author: Pascal Verbeken
  • Editor: De Bezige Bij Antwerpen
  • ISBN: 9789085422334
  • Pages: 272
  • Date of publication; 19/03/2012