Infrabel, Belgium's rail network operator, has stated that it might have to close 700 km of train lines if the Federal Government's upcoming budgets do not meet their demands.
As rail workers go on a 24 hour strike on Wednesday leading to three in four trains being cancelled, French-speaking newspaper La Dernière Heure dropped a bombshell that could impact the future of rail transport in the country.
The report stated that Infrabel is prepared to remove 20% of the 3,600 km of train lines in Belgium if it fails to get the government funding they believe is necessary to carry out their operations.
- Rail strike on Wednesday: Government promises clarity on funding
- Three in four trains cancelled: All you need to know about today's rail strike
- Rail traffic across Belgium 'severely disrupted' due to Wednesday strike
While the scenario is not thought to be likely, Infrabel's warning will put pressure on the Federal Government's budgetary discussions and may secure a larger budget for the rail network operator.
In response, Federal Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) has insisted that there will be no line closures during his time in office and explained that “even if some lines may seem unprofitable in terms of passenger traffic, they are essential for freight traffic."
He went on to say that "removing lines would mean sending hundreds of trucks back onto our roads on a regular basis, which is not going to happen."