Belgium’s national railway company (SNCB) is increasing its capacity for bicycles and introducing new rules, it announced on Wednesday.
At the beginning of June, the government decided to make access to bicycles on trains free of charge from 1 July to 31 December, resulting in significantly more cyclists using trains. The number of bicycles on trains increased by 80% in July compared to the same month last year.
The problem is that bicycles often block access to cars, entrances and exits, and to sanitary facilities equipped with water and soap, explained the Belgian railway company, resulting in health and safety problems and complaints from passengers.
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In response, the SNCB is deploying extra trains every day to tourist destinations such as the coast and the Ardennes. "This offer is further strengthened in good weather", the transport company added.
The SNCB has also issued a series of rules. Folding bicycles can be taken free of charge on all trains, provided they are placed under a seat for the entire journey. Users must also have a "bicycle supplement" ticket, available free of charge until the end of the year at the ticket office, online or at a ticket machine.
Cyclists are asked to consult the train attendant before departure to find out whether there are still bicycle spaces available. If there are too many cyclists on the train, the accompanying person may refuse to let the bike on.
From 18 July to 30 August, access for bicycles on trains to and from the coast and between Brussels and Arlon is only allowed on trains arriving at a coastal station or in Arlon after 1 p.m., on trains departing from a coastal station or Arlon before 4 p.m. or after 8 p.m. This measure covers the entire train journey.
For the coast, this concerns trains from and to the five coastal stations (Ostend, Blankenberge, De Panne, Knokke and Zeebrugge), where rental and shared bicycles are generally readily available on site, the NMBS adds.
For the Ardennes, these are trains from Brussels to Arlon and Luxembourg. The SNCB's travel planner indicates which trains are concerned by this measure.
"From next year, the multifunctional carriages of the M7 trains will be able to offer a better solution for train journeys with a bicycle,” the company concluded.
The Brussels Times