Belgium's free train tickets postponed to September

Belgium's free train tickets postponed to September
Credit: SNCB

A proposed plan to grant each Belgian resident 12 free train rides will be pushed from August to September following updates to the country's coronavirus plan.

The plan - part of a push to promote local tourism in the wake of coronavirus - was officially delayed by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during the National Security Council press conference on Monday. The free train tickets were set to be ready to use from the 17 August until the 21 February.

According to national railway company SNCB, the rail passes can now be validated starting September 17th. Travellers will be able to use their tickets for six months, and can request their ticket online.

“Train travel should be safe in any context,” a representative for SNCB told The Brussels Times. “This measure will help to prevent a high concentration of passengers now that train travel is on the rise again.”

“We went from 900,000 passengers at the start of the lockdown, to 90,000 around the last peak, and now we are back at 450,000 again. The main reason for this increase is mostly an increase in work-related travel to and from Brussels.”

From the start of June, Belgian passengers have been required to wear a face mask when on the train or in a station. Passengers not wearing masks risk fines of up to €250.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, the SNCB’s Securail police have handed out approximately 600 fines, with the federal police writing out over 1,000 tickets. In general, according to SNCB, “passengers follow the face mask regulations fairly well.”

Amée Zoutberg

The Brussels Times

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