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Belgian rail scraps extra trains to the coast this weekend

Credit: Belga

Belgian railway company SNCB will scrap several extra trains to the coast it was supposed to operate the coming weekend, according to acting West Flemish governor Anne Martens on Tuesday evening.

If the planned trains get too busy, no additional passengers will be allowed to board, she said after consultation with, among others, the mayors of the coastal cities with train stations, the police, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and SNCB.

SNCB will limit its summer offer for now. The measures will be evaluated after the weekend, when a decision about the train traffic for the following summer weekends will be made, reports De Standaard.

The decision follows a tumultuous weekend on the Belgian coast, as it got too busy for the coronavirus measures on Saturday in many towns, which even led to a massive fight in Blankenberge.

Many mayors asked to stop the planned extra trains to the coast, but that did not work out on Sunday.

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Additionally, on the trains that will still be allowed to run, the number of passengers will be limited. “SNCB adheres to the maximum number of train passengers per day per coastal station,” the announcement said. “In concrete terms, this means 10,000 for Ostend, 6,000 for Blankenberge, 2,000 for Knokke-Heist, 4,000 Zeebrugge and 2,000 for De Panne.”

Mayor of Ostend, Bart Tommelein, had complained this weekend that the influx of train passengers alone was enough to fully occupy the planned places on the beach.

The trains will only run at a maximum of 80% occupancy. When this is reached, passengers will only be allowed to get out of the train at the next station, but new passengers will not be allowed in, reports VRT.

“SNCB will supervise the train passengers in the stations. The police will have a reinforced presence in all major stations,” Martens said.

The railway police, Securail, will have a “reinforced presence” on the trains and in the stations. “Potential troublemakers” will be reported to the police services, and in the event of “the slightest incident, decisive action will be taken, if necessary en route.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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