Rail operators in France and Belgium have approved a plan to set up a separate company to operate the jointly-run high-speed Thalys service.
SNCF and SNCB have said that restructuring the service will ‘ensure agility in a competitive environment’.
From 2015, a single body will oversee Thalys train operations, pending approval from the European Commission.
The high-speed cross-border service was inaugurated in 1995 and provides passengers with direct links between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne.
Last year, Thalys trains carried 6.6 million passengers and recorded a turnover of 479 million euros.
Guillaume Pepy, chairman of SNCF and Marc Descheemaecker, of SNCB, said: “This is a great opportunity to consolidate our historic partnership between our two companies and continue the development of high-speed rail in Northern Europe.”