‘Train service of national interest’: SNCB to scrap most trains
Thursday, 19 March 2020
The companies promise that there will be enough space on the trains for social distancing. Credit: Belga
From Monday, far fewer trains will be running, as railway company SNCB, network manager Infrabel and the government have announced a “train service of national interest” to guarantee a service during the new coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
“This is the only option to maintain a robust, stable and predictable train service,” said SNCB and Infrabel in a press release. The railway companies are reporting an increasing number of sick staff members (up to 30% of the train attendants in some regions), which increases the risk of trains being cancelled unexpectedly without prior notice.
The “train service of national interest” aims to keep the possibility of “essential journeys” for people who have no other option but to take the train.
From Monday, one or two IC (inter-city) trains will run every hour, and two or three L and S (local) trains per hour during rush hours.
From 8:00 PM into the night, the offer will be very limited, and even between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM during the day, very few local trains will run.
The companies promise that there will be enough space on the trains for social distancing, as 75% of the places on a normal weekday will remain available. In recent days, only 8 to 10% of the seats were occupied, SNCB said.
Additionally, SCNB also reminded people that it cleans its trains and stations daily, paying particular attention to the surfaces with which passengers come into contact the most.
This plan should remain in force until at least 5 April.