The national rail authority NMBS/SNCB and the city of Ghent have reached an agreement on works to be carried out at Gent-Sint-Pieters station, one of the busiest in the country.
The agreement on an amended set of plans brings to an end the seemingly eternal delays the station and its passengers have suffered.
Originally, the NMBS had proposed a minimal set of plans for the renovation of the station, but the city demanded a more functional station. Gent-Sint-Pieters serves not only the city, but is an important stop on the lines crossing the country, as well as a hub for traffic between Antwerp and Brussels and the region of southern West Flanders. The station dates from 1912, and is the fourth-busiest on the national network, after the three main Brussels stations North, South and Central. It is used by around 56,000 passengers daily during the week, and around 21,000 daily at weekends.
Two main reasons for the stalemate have been resolved. The roof over the platforms which currently have none will be built which “guarantees the comfort of passengers and fits in with the architecture of the existing roofing”. And more attention will be paid to the quality of the planned underground cycle parking. The NMBS had hesitated over those two points for budgetary reasons, particularly the works required to install the underground cycle parking.
“It is good that the case of Gent-Sint-Pieters has been unblocked,” said Ghent mayor Mathias De Clercq, adding that he is relieved “that we can now move forward with adapted plans that are worthy of a city like Ghent.”
The two parties now aim to have the papers ready for a full set of permits by 2020, with a public enquiry to follow once applications are filed. The full renovation should be complete by 2027.