Belgian train station malfunctions disrupt accessibility needs

Belgian train station malfunctions disrupt accessibility needs
Credit: Virginie Lefour / Belga

In 2021, there were 1,119 malfunctions of lifts and escalators in Belgian train stations. Each of these can take up to ten working days to repair, showing a lack of attention to those who rely on these infrastructures for travel.

Belgian National Railway Service, SNCB, manages a total of 285 lifts and 312 escalators across train stations, Belga News Agency reports. These provide ease of mobility for those with limited mobility abilities and those travelling with heavy luggage.

However, as figures provided by Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet at the request of Parliament Member Joris Vandenbroucke show, many of the lifts and escalators are broken throughout the year and take longer to repair. Depending on the level of damage, on average repairs can take one and a half to ten working days.

Extent of disruption

The train station that sees the most disruptions to its lifts and escalators is Enghien station in Hainaut. On average, only a quarter of mobility infrastructure works at the station. Gilkinet pointed out that the lift at the train station was impacted by the floods last summer and therefore needs more funds and resources for repairs.

After Enghien, the most affected stations are Neerpelt, Charleroi-South, Ottignies, Brussels-West, Mechelen, Germoir, Zaventem-Dorp, Jette and Namur. Though, the availability of lifts and escalators at these stations is not lower than 68%.

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The trend seems to be decreasing, however. In 2020, 1,213 malfunctions were detected and a few years before that there were about 2,000. Last year, SNCB spent approximately €280,000 on repairs.

Vandenbroucke said this is still unacceptable and everyone deserves to be able to access public transportation. The lack of functioning mobility infrastructure poses as an obstacle to those with limited mobility travelling by train, he said.

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