Navetteurs.be and TreinTramBus pointed out in a press release on Wednesday that they are opposed to a new SNCB policy aimed at limiting the various surcharges payable by passengers who buy their ticket on-board to a single fee of 7 euros. According to these organisations, the new measure will penalise law-abiding passengers, when the best way to fight fraud is to increase on-board checks. Passengers without a ticket who catch a train at a station where there is a ticket office or a vending machine currently have to pay a 3-euro surcharge if they spontaneously inform the train attendant. If they don’t present their case of their own volition, the surcharge goes up to 12.50 euros.
The new single fee of 7 euros will be effective as of February 1st, 2015, and is intended to reduce the likelihood of “discussions which regularly lead to assaults on train attendants”, according to SNCB. The railway company is also introducing 740 new ticket vending machines around its stations and stops.
But machines are not always easy to use and “honest travellers will lose out”, point out passenger organisations. “They are often to be found only on one platform, which can lead to a lot of time wasted between your departure platform and the vending machine. What’s more, if there are a few people ahead of you in the queue, your waiting time can easily tot up. The machines are sometimes out of order, or decline your payment card. In those cases, passengers will have to pay the full 7 euros.”
These organisations have asked SNCB to increase on-board checks. “On average, passengers don’t have their ticket checked on 2/3 of their trips. Regular ticket checking is always the best way to catch free-riders.”