National strike in Brussels: Public transport disruptions

National strike in Brussels: Public transport disruptions
Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

For the third time this year, trade unions in Belgium are organising a national strike in protest over the government's insufficient measures to protect purchasing power. The actions on Wednesday 21 September will strongly disrupt public transport.

Last week, trade unions issued a notice to members emphasising that many people are no longer able to make ends meet and are "losing any prospect of a decent life." On Wednesday, a rally will take place in Brussels with further strikes across Belgium.

A demonstation has been organised from 10:00 on the Brussels Place de la Monnaie; additional disruptions are expected in the rest of the city as well as on public transport networks across the country.

Metros, trams and buses in Brussels

As early as last week, Brussels public transport company STIB announced that its bus, tram and metro services would be impacted, not only with some staff participating but also due to the planned march leading to some of its bus and tram routes being diverted.

"At the moment, we cannot estimate the full extent of the impact as we do not know how many people will be willing to work," STIB spokesperson An Van hamme told The Brussels Times. "As always, we will try to operate our most important lines for as many people as possible."

The company is advising passengers to find alternative ways to get around the city. From 06:00, live updates will also be published on its website, the mobile app and the social media channels Facebook and Twitter (@STIBMIVB).

Flanders and Wallonia

Belgium's national railway service SNCB does not expect the strikes to affect its network: "We have not received a strike notice so are expecting all our trains to operate as normal tomorrow," the company confirmed to The Brussels Times on Tuesday.

The Flemish public transport company De Lijn, however, announced on its website that it is expecting significant delays on its tram and bus network. However, it will lay on alternative services based on the available staff.

Which lines will be impacted is not yet clear but the De Lijn route planner (via the website or in the app) will be kept up to date throughout Wednesday: buses and trams that are not running will not be shown in the planner.

In Wallonia, public transport company TEC has also warned its customers that it "fears heavy disturbances due to the action on its network" across all provinces. Major delays and cancellations are expected, and TEC has published lists of all its local lines that are cancelled on its website.

While a certain number of lines are currently still listed as operating normally, the company advises travellers to check its website on the day of the action, as everything is subject to change.

Following the day of demonstrations on Wednesday, the trade unions are also organising another general strike in November.

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