Ostend Mayor Bart Tommelein has reached an agreement with Belgium’s national railway company (SNCB) about extra trains to the coast.
The SNCB put in extra trains towards the coast last weekend as Belgians flocked to the seaside for the warm weather. A faulty train in Ostend’s train station led to chaos and people packed tightly together. The incident caused Tommelein to be frustrated with the railway company.
Tommelein wanted a registration system, as is the case with major international trains like the Eurostar or the Thalys. He also wanted a safety plan, without which he didn’t want extra trains to Ostend.
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Now, travellers to the coast will be able to register on a voluntary basis. “You can use the SNCB app to enter that you want to take the train from Brussels to Ostend at 11:00 AM and the train in the opposite direction at 7:00 PM,” Tommelein gave as an example.
“From the moment you have registered this, the SNCB will be able to send you information: how busy it is, whether there are delays, and so on.”
Tommelein was surprised to find out the SNCB already had such a system. “They could have maybe signalled that sooner,” he said.
Ostend will also look into how it can combine its own system for reserving beach spots with the app. In addition, a safety plan is being put in place, including physically separating people with different destinations. Federal police will also deploy more officers.
There will be extra trains to the coast from Wednesday, something the Ostend mayor “can live with” following the decision on the system and the safety plan.
The Brussels Times