The Flemish public transport authority De Lijn is close to reaching an agreement with the Brussels Region to return to its old terminus under the Gare du Nord in Brussels, after “constructive talks” between the two parties. However, a spokesperson for De Lijn denied a report in Le Soir newspaper that the return could take place as early as Friday. The report was sourced to “well-placed Brussels sources”. A spokesperson for De Lijn itself, however, said, “If there is a change, it will not be from one day to the next, in order not to sow confusion among our users.”
De Lijn operated a terminus consisting of eight platforms in a tunnel under the station, for the 30 bus lines that travel from Flanders region into Brussels. But the level had become a refuge for migrants and other homeless people looking for shelter, leading Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts to offer an ultimatum to the authorities: clean up the terminal or De Lijn will move elsewhere. A week later, the company made good its promise.
Since then, discussion has centred on who is responsible for safety and hygiene in the terminal: the rail authority SNCB, the building’s owner CCN, the commune of Schaarbeek or the Brussels Capital Region.
In the meantime, De Lijn buses have been taking their breaks in the central lane of the Rue du Progres, while picking up and dropping off passengers on Place Rogier. Police have declared the stopping place illegal, and started handing out fines, which De Lijn intends to ignore.
All the while, talks have been going on between the transport authority and the Brussels region, with whom De Lijn has an agreement to exploit the terminal, according company chair Marc Descheemaeker, speaking to Bruzz.
“We have responded to the request for discussion with the various authorities, and I hope that we will be able in the coming hours or days to come to an agreement to which all parties can agree in good faith, to guarantee the cleanliness and security in the station,” Descheemaeker said.
However no details are yet available as to the measures to be taken, nor the timetable for implementation of the measure and the return of De Lijn.