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    Belgain rail strike: What to expect on Thursday

    © Belga
    A significant reduction in the SNCB's payroll is planned for 2020.
    © Belga

    From Wednesday 10:00 PM until the same time on Thursday Belgian’s national rail will be on strike, with disrupted services throughout the country. 

    How will this impact passengers? 

    To help facilitate easier transport, SNCB/NMBS has attempted to draw up an alternative transport plan on the basis of the staff members who have said they were not taking part in the strike.

    What this means, in effect is that about a third of trains will run. 

    IC trains, which run between the major cities, will be given priority. This means that many trains from Brussels to major cities will likely feel the strikes the least, although the frequency will drop, making trains busier.

    Some IC trains, however, will not run at all – including Antwerp to Leuven – with travellers advised checking the app/online for the most up to date information.

    One-third of the suburban S and L trains will run, while the majority of P trains – used at peak times – will not run, as previously reported

    International travellers looking to start in Belgium could also face disturbance from the strike, on top of ongoing disturbances as a result of striking in France. 

    Thalys: has advised all travellers to check Thalys traffic updates before their departure and to postpone their journey if possible – offering ticket exchanges, subject to availability, or refunds. 

    Eurostar is “making every effort to reduce the impact of this strike as much as possible,” but has announced some cancelled Eurostar trains (especially between London and Paris). On top of that, trains departing from Brussels will not be calling at Lille and Calais, as the Intra-Schengen terminal at Brussels-Midi station will not be staffed. 

    Trains to Brussels, however, will keep serving Calais and Lille.  

    Why the strike?

    A long-running dispute concerning union demands for a pay increase of 1.1%, the employment of more workers on permanent contracts, the same pay structure for permanent and fixed-contract workers, and retention of the current 36-hour week have all motivated the latest strike.

    Ultimately, all passengers have been advised that while this is the current plan, things may change over the course of the day.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussel Times