SNCB app accused of being too 'inconsistent' for lockdown

SNCB app accused of being too 'inconsistent' for lockdown
Credit: Belga

A new app by Belgian rail provider SNCB which aims to show if trains are full or not has come under fire after claims that the data it provides is incorrect.

Launched in September, the MoveSafe application is designed to inform SNCB's users of the train occupancy rate, information which passengers can use to adapt their journeys as needed to avoid overcrowding. Recent failures, however, have led to trains being marked as full when they are empty, something which has drawn criticism, La libre reports.

The application "does not at all meet the legitimate expectations of travellers, especially during the Covid period," according to Gianni Tabbone, spokesperson for the Navetteurs association.

"There are very big inconsistencies, going in both directions: quite full trains are announced as empty and vice versa. We can see that it is rather based on predictive models, which are no longer relevant at the moment," explained Tabbone.

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Responding to the claims, SNCB said that the app works based on data about the train's occupancy rate in the days before. "In real-time, the train conductor can still adjust this if the situation is different," SNCB spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman told The Brussels Times, stressing that this is only the first version of the app.

"The information is usually correct, but it can happen that this is not the case for a particular journey, in which additional adjustments by the conductor should have been made," he said, adding the company continues to work to improve the app.

The Navetteurs association explains that "the responsibility for updating the data lies with the accompanying persons, who have other things to do than counting passengers during the journey. These updates are linked to an internet connection, and we know about the problems encountered on board the trains by staff and passengers."

In order to present reliable data, Navetteurs would have preferred counting via sensors in the doors.

However, such a change in the way passengers are counted will not happen soon, according to Temmerman. "We wanted to launch the app during the coronavirus period, so passengers could avoid crowds as much as possible, and we notice that it is doing its job," he said.

The Brussels Times

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