SNCB to extend train discounts to all families by 2024

SNCB to extend train discounts to all families by 2024
Families of all sizes can now apply for discounted fares. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

Belgian national railway operator SNCB is looking to expand its current discount formula for families to include those of all sizes by 2024, the company's spokesperson has said.

Currently, any family living in Belgium with at least three children aged under 25 can apply for a discount card, which sees adults and children receive a 50% discount for a Standard Ticket in first and second class, while children under 12 travel for free. As part of a simplification of fare formulas, SNCB wants to introduce a discount for all families with children in 2024.

"A single parent with one or two children who is not financially comfortable is not entitled to this discount, while a family with three children who are financially more comfortable is," the company's spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman told Belga News Agency, who argued the current system is outdated.

As part of the new system, that would be an alternative to the current discount card for large families which will disappear in 2024, everyone aged between 12 and 25 can enjoy a discount, "regardless of whether they grow up in a large or a small family."

While this change means parents will no longer automatically enjoy a rebate under the new scheme, the increased allowance system will be retained, which sees families who are struggling financially receive extra support.

New contract and increased fares

Talks on the new scheme are part of the new management contract with the government, "which should in principle be completed by the end of this year," Temmerman said.

The news also comes in light of the announcement that, from February 2023, train tickets in Belgium will become more expensive. These chanegs also include new fare formulas that are being developed to make travel by train simpler and more attractive, and direct specific offers to target groups.

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SNCB's rates are always adjusted annually in February based on the annual evolution of the health index (the consumer price index without alcoholic beverages, tobacco and motor fuels), but will now also take into account the impact of the sharp rises in inflation and energy prices.

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