Escalators and lifts in Belgian train stations malfunction around 2,000 times a year, according to Minister of Mobility François Bellot.
As a result, National Railway Company of Belgium SNCB (NMBS) pays €2 million a year for the maintenance of broken escalators and elevators, Nieuwsblad reports.
Bellot (MR) was answering a written question from Member of Parliament Joris Vandenbroucke (SP.A) – who lamented the annoyance caused to many people by the frequent breaks at busy stations.
“For parents with prams, people with disabilities, travellers taking a bicycle, elderly people with mobility problems, small children, for them, a defective lift or escalator is much more than an annoyance, but a limitation of their mobility,” Vandenbroucke said.
Vandenbroucke argues that the SNCB should terminate the maintenance contracts, despite long term contracts with the companies.
“If these maintenance companies do not succeed in making the escalators and elevators function properly, the maintenance contract must be terminated. If necessary, the SNCB can go to court,” said Vandenbroucke.
According to Bellot, “often SNCB is not satisfied with the service it receives.”
“The SNCB does not hesitate to apply penalty clauses and is investigating how it can improve the service in the longer term,” she added.
For its part, SNCB has said it is working to increase the number of lifts and escalators available over the coming years, and to make train stations more accessible in general.
“In 2022 we want to have 30% more elevators and escalators in our train stations, from 560 now to 735 in 2022. In addition, almost a quarter (150) of the current elevators and escalators will be replaced [in 2020],” SNCB spokesman Dimitri Temmerman told The Brussels Times.
“These are elevators and escalators that are more than 25 years old. These investments are part of a new framework contract (2020 – 2027) that SNCB wants to have completed by the end of this year. In total, this is an investment of €67 million,” Temmerman added.
The Brussels Times