In the government agreement of 2014, Belgium’s national railway company NMBS/SNCB promised more punctual trains and better communication with the commuters. However, so far, nothing has come of it, according to both commuters and SNCB personnel. In recent years, train passengers’ satisfaction has dropped to a historic low. Only six out of ten are satisfied with the service and only 42% of travellers are satisfied with the punctuality of the trains, which is one fifth less than in 2016.
In 2018, all trains together were delayed more than 3.2 million minutes, which comes down to 146 hours a day, according to the SNCB’s own figures.
A lot of the problems on the track are due to the problematic relationship between the SNCB and the network manager Infrabel, according to the railway staff members VRT NWS spoke to and who want to stay anonymous. “In the event of delays and problems, they constantly put the responsibility on the other. You see them arguing back and forth, and it sometimes takes hours before decisions are made. Over the course of half an hour, we sometimes get nine different versions of what we have to do. That really is amateurism. The logic stops where the SNCB starts,” one of them said.
Other staff members VRT NWS spoke to point to the old trains as the cause of the delays. “For some trains, for example, we know that there is only a 33% chance that they will run. Yet they are still being scheduled, only to be cancelled last-minute. It just keeps happening. This company does not learn from its mistakes.”
The Brussels Times