The European parliament has insisted on the right of cyclists to being their bikes when travelling by train, with space for at least eight bicycles on each train. The decision goes against a rule recently announced by the rail authority SNCB, which banned bikes other than folding bikes from trains during peak hours in the morning and evening – exactly the times when many cyclists use the bicycle as part of their home-work commute.
At the time the new measure was announced last month, cyclists’ organisations from both sides of the language frontier joined in condemning the ban. “Sustainable mobility, getting people out of their cars and switching them to the bicycle and public transport: these are hardly earth-shattering new ideas,” said the cycling unions in a joint statement. “They are widely accepted. And then along comes the SNCB with the message that an ordinary bicycle is no longer welcome on train at busy times.”
According to the SNCB, meanwhile, the measure was decided because ordinary bikes take up space which should be available to passengers at peak times, when trains are at their busiest.
The measure was already condemned by federal mobility minister François Bellot – the SNCB is the responsibility of the federal government. Now the European Parliament has backed him up.
“European society must make space available for a minimum of eight bicycles per train, including high-speed trains,” said Groen MEP Bart Staes. The colleague, Mark Demesmaeker of N-VA, said, “This is an important matter aimed at motivating people to opt for public transport.”
The parliament also called for a two-fold increase in compensation for late trains, from one-quarter of the price when a train is an hour late or more, to half of the price. Compensation should rise to 75% after 90 minutes, and 100% from two hours on.