SNCB keeps plans to close 44 ticket offices, despite criticism
Tuesday, 09 February 2021
Belgian railway company SNCB has said it will not go back on its plan to close ticket offices in 44 of its stations, despite the criticism it received from Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet. Following SNCB’s announcement on 1 February, the company was publicly rebuked by Gilkinet, who claimed he had not been informed, and asked SNCB to amend its decision. This led to a clash between Gilkinet and SNCB CEO Sophie Dutordoir, who denied Gilkinet’s statements. Since then, the two parties have agreed on a compromise, which was presented on Tuesday to the Board of Directors of SNCB, announcing that the 44 counters will be gradually closed by the end of this year.
From 1 March, most of the offices will reduce opening hours to just two to three days, however the train company reiterated in its press statement that this only affects the closure of ticket offices, not the stations themselves. As part of this compromise, SNCB has agreed to ‘improve or reinforce’ a number of accompanying measures, including researching possible cooperations with ‘partners’ such as Bpost or local newsagents to sell tickets or subscriptions in the affected municipalities. The decision by SNCB to close ticket offices in 44 stations was a result of a decrease in the number of customers turning up at a ticket counter, in certain cases falling below the minimum threshold, which results in a transaction cost that is higher than the price of a ticket.