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    Government and SNCB reach agreement on free rail pass

    Credit: Belga

    Belgian citizens applying for the free rail pass to promote tourism within Belgium will get 12 free rides instead of ten, the VRT reported on Friday.

    Belgium’s Superkern, consisting of ministers from the government and representatives of the parties not in the coalition, decided on 6 June that every citizen could get such a pass.

    To promote tourism within the country, the government is launching a campaign, currently titled ‘tournée nationale’ (a play on words with ‘tournée générale’, when somebody buys drinks for all).

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    The SNCB, Belgium’s national rail service, will not suffer a financial loss, as the government will provide it with extra money to compensate for the loss of income during the coronavirus crisis.

    The government had not consulted with the SNCB regarding the decision to offer free rail passes, causing SNCB’s CEO Sophie Dutordoir to react on Twitter.

    Translation: “That the Belgian government wants to promote the use of public transport again with the population as a sustainable means of transport is a good thing. The way in which a decision was made yesterday without any discussion raises very serious questions, however.”

    Earlier this week, the SNCB had pleaded to delay the decision on a free rail pass until times of better health. However, an agreement has now been reached.

    In the end, the 12 rides can be spread across six months, with an allowance of two rides per month.

    The pass will reportedly enter into effect from the middle of August.

    The Brussels Times