Belgian railway company SNCB will temporarily cancel 120 trains a day due to the impact of the fourth Covid-19 wave.
SNCB announced the planned cancellation of 20 train routes last weekend amid struggles with staff shortages due to the virus, but more will be added from 6 December.
'Due to the evolution of the epidemic and the increase in contaminations, the SNCB, like other economic sectors, currently faces a rise in staff illness and/or quarantine,' the company said in a press release on Thursday.
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'Since Monday 29 November, some twenty P trains (peak trains) to and from Brussels have already been withdrawn from the service. From Monday 6 December onwards, a further 100 trains on five routes will also be withdrawn daily.'
The cancellation amounts to about 2.5% of the 3,800 trains. In addition to the removal of certain P trains, one in four hourly intercity (IC) trains between Antwerp and Brussels will be removed on weekdays. The S32 link between Puurs, Essen and Roosendaal will be reduced to a frequency of one train every hour instead of every half hour.
En raison de l’évolution de l’épidémie, la #SNCB est actuellement confrontée à des cas de maladie et/ou de quarantaine parmi son personnel. La SNCB souhaite limiter au maximum les désagréments pour ses voyageurs en adaptant temporairement son offre : https://t.co/nyreTrpsxN pic.twitter.com/V9VzyRE33x— SNCB (@SNCB) December 2, 2021
Translation: Due to the evolution of the epidemic, #SNCB is currently facing cases of illness and/or quarantine among its staff. SNCB wishes to limit as much as possible the inconvenience for its passengers by temporarily adapting its offerings.
The S53 trains between Gent-Sint-Pieters and Lokeren will also be cancelled, along with the IC trains between Mons and Aulnoye, and between Namur-Charleroi and Maubeuge (on weekdays and at weekends). Passengers travelling to France are recommended to travel via Lille.
“SNCB is monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will continue to take the necessary measures to avoid unforeseen cancellations as much as possible,” the company said. They plan to increase its train offerings from 12 December.
“The SNCB is now forced to organise itself to keep rail traffic flowing as smoothly as possible, even in these difficult circumstances. But we are doing everything we can to get all trains running again as soon as possible,” said Georges Gilkinet, Federal Minister of Mobility, in a statement.
A full list of the cancellations and reduced offerings is available on SNCB’s official website.