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Coronavirus delays arrival of new SNCB trains

© Belga

Plans by Belgian railway operator SNCB/NMBS to unveil a revamped train fleet this year have been derailed by production delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The SCNB was expecting the arrival of 66 new double-decker M7 trains in 2021, company spokesperson Bart Crols told De Tijd.

Crols said that, out of the 113 trains set to be delivered by train makers Alstom and Bombardier, only 47 will be making their debut on the Belgian rail network this year.

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The delay comes amid a slowdown of activity in the production facilities of the manufacturers, brought on by the social-distancing guidelines imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2015, the company placed a €1.3 billion order of 445 new double-decker coaches to replace the old trains, which have been operating since the 1980s.

As a result of the delay, passengers of the Belgian railway company will continue to move around in the older M4 trains, which break down regularly, often have no air conditioner and have been reported to contain asbestos.

The coronavirus is the most recent cause for persistent delays in the SNCB’s order and throws a new spanner in the works in the company’s plans to pull the older trains from circulation by 2023.

The delivery of the trains by Alstom and Bombardier was expected to completed between 2018 and late 2021, but has been postponed several times.

In 2019, the SNCB received only one M7 from manufacturers, which has tested at the beginning of the year in the Brussels-Liège rail line.

The Brussels Times

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