Belgian rail postpones planned expansion of train services

Belgian rail postpones planned expansion of train services
Credit: Belga/Siska Gremmelprez

Belgian railway company SNCB will not expand its offer in December after all, as had been planned, the board of directors decided.

Normally, the third and final phase of the 2020-2023 transport plan would be rolled out on 11 December, with a gradual expansion of train services on offer, but SNCB is now pausing their plans for various reasons, spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman told Belga News Agency.

The railway company referred to the "difficult financial context," partly caused by sharply increased energy and wage costs, and says it is also struggling with outdated infrastructure, late deliveries of new equipment, more track walkers and staff shortages – which are already weighing on the company's punctuality and performance today. In October, punctuality even dropped to its lowest level in four years.

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"Before we add more trains, we need to remove the pressure on the rail system," CEO Sophie Dutordoir recently said at a parliamentary hearing.

Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet, who wanted to obtain an increase in rail services in his plans, said that he understands the "logical" decision. "Over the course of next year, we want to obtain new funds to put those additional trains into service, as planned."

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