2015 update: Unfortunately the Belgian railways doesn't like travellers between Brussels and Maastricht. As of December 2014 you have to wait 40 minutes at the 300M euro station in Liège, either way when travelling between Brussels and Maastricht. To make things even more ridiculous the train is coming from Hasselt. As if anyone would take a train from Hasselt to Maastricht that takes 1,5 hour (the bus takes less than one hour). You can contact the Belgian railways here.
"What's the cheapest way to get from Brussels to Maastricht?" I just got this question from a friend and I think it's good more people know about an option to get from Brussels to Maastricht for just a bit more than 10 euros. Well, I'm actually going to discuss the third cheapest way to get from Maastricht to Brussels. Of course the two cheapest ways are hitchhiking and walking (in this order, since you'll be very hungry when walking from Brussels to Maastricht). If you take the train in Belgium regularly this option will be a good deal for you.
Brussels Maastricht by train: normal price
The normal price for a one way ticket on the train on this trajectory is 18,10 euro. Then there is a special ticket that you can buy at the counter of which I don't know the price.
I just checked at NS Hispeed online and apparently there's also a way to get a return ticket for just 20 euro but you will not be able to change the dates.
Use Railpass for international trains between Belgium and the Netherlands
So my way of taking this train is to get a Rail Pass, a ticket that you can use 10 times to get from one Belgian station to any other Belgian station. You have to write down the date and the stations and that's it. It costs 74 euros. And you can also use it with several people.
Under 26? Go Pass
If you're under 26 you can go for the Go Pass which is quite a bit cheaper.
The problem with this Rail Pass is that it's only valid until the last Belgian station. If you're going abroad you need to get a ticket from the last Belgian station till your destination on the other side of the border. Fortunately there's a special ticket from Visé (yes, the last Belgian station) to Maastricht for "only" 2,40 euros. If you buy it in Maastricht, it will cost you an extra 50 cents "service fee" which is a bit silly since there's no way to get the ticket from the machines.
Here are the steps:
- make sure you will be taking 10 rides in the next year in Belgium
- buy a Rail Pass for 76 euros
- if you go from Brusssels to Maastricht your traject is Brussel - Visé
- buy a ticket from Vise to Maastricht for 3,20 euro
If you're currently in the Netherlands you won't able to use this the first time you take this trip since the Rail or Go Pass can only be bought in Belgium. The alternative would be taking a bus (for 3 euros) to either Bilzen or Hasselt, and take the train to Brussels from there. This is also the best way to get to Antwerpen from Maastricht (and vice versa). And since the train is often cancelled (without reason!), the bus towards Hasselt is also good in cases where you would otherwise wait 1 hour for the next train. The bus stop of the Belgian bus lines is just outside the train station, a bit behind the local ones.
Bus from Maastricht to Brussels?
You can take local buses all the way from Maastricht to Brussels but this will take a really long time. The local bus from Maastricht to Hasselt (or better: get off at Kiewit train station) is also an option, since you can continue by train and pay 7,60 euro for the Belgian train ride.
Maastricht to Antwerp
The bus from Maastricht can be a good option to take a train to Antwerp. Instead of going through Liège. You could also still take a train from Liège, it's a nice station on which the Belgian national railway company spent 300M euro (unfortunately this money didn't go to increase the frequency or buy new nicer trains for passengers).
But anyway, with the Rail Pass your train travels in and around Belgium can become considerably cheaper.