No major rush for the coast on Saturday

No major rush for the coast on Saturday
"Busy, but certainly not extremely busy". © Visiit Flanders Flickr

The expected rush to and at the coast expected today had not materialised by lunchtime on Saturday, the Flemish Traffic Centre reported.

Road traffic on the E40 in the direction of the coast was heavy by 10.00, the centre said, but there were no problems on the way.

There are traffic jams along the entire route,” said spokesperson Peter Bruyninckx. “Traffic occasionally slows down and sometimes you stop for a moment. So it is busy, but certainly not extremely busy.”

At the same time, the number of train passengers was more than normal, but the situation was under control, the rail authority SNCB said.

The Royal Meteorological Institute was forecasting sunny and warm weather for Saturday after a grey and drizzly week, and the coastal reports of West Flanders were expecting a rush of day-trippers, on top of those arriving for longer on the second main weekend of the summer.

Belgium is already two weeks into the school summer holidays, and the weekend this year coincides with the national day on Tuesday, meaning that many of those who are still working, especially in the public sector, will be taking Monday off to make a long weekend of it.

On the trains, the SNCB had laid on extra capacity to ensure that passengers could maintain a safe distance from those outside their bubble. Station staff were also on hand to control the situation on the platforms.

Earlier it was announced that the SNCB would work closely with the mayors of the coastal towns to regulate the flow of passenger to the main rail destinations: Ostend, Knokke and Blankenberge, and to a lesser extent De Panne.

The SNCB meanwhile advises those intending to travel to prepare well, and to check the measurements provided by the coast’s tourism agency Westtoer showing how busy any particular beach is.

Earlier in the week, Ostend mayor Bart Tommelein (Open VLD) had launched a reservation system for the city’s main beaches. Visitors to Ostend – whether day-trippers, second home owners or permanent residents – were required to book a space online, with a maximum of 15,000 places a day available. At the last report, 11,000 people had reserved for today.

The reservation system is in operation until 22 July, the day after the national holiday.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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