Nearly 3.6 million people applied for Belgium’s free rail pass
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Nearly 3.6 million people applied for Belgium’s free rail pass

Credit: Belga

Nearly 3.6 million people have ordered the free Hello Belgium Railpass, Belgium’s national railway service SNCB said on Thursday.

The rail pass, which holds 12 free train rides for every Belgian resident over 12 years old, was part of a government decision to revive the tourism sector after the coronavirus crisis by promoting travel within the country.

Wednesday, 30 September was the last day that Belgian residents could request their free rail pass.

The free rail pass offers the possibility to travel to more than 500 destinations, the SNCB highlighted, offering two journeys per month from 5 October to 31 March 2021.

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It can only be used after 9:00 AM during the week, while at weekends there is no time limit. The 12-journey card must be filled in before boarding the train and presented to the ticket inspector with the identity card, points out the railway company.

The railway company conducted a survey on applicants’ travel intentions and found that all age groups are represented in a balanced way. Almost all respondents (95%) will use their free tickets during their leisure time, mainly on weekends. The use of trains during the weekend could thus theoretically double, the SNCB warned.

Eight out of ten respondents indicated that they wanted to discover new destinations, other than the Coast, among the more than 500 choices offered by the SNCB.

Finally, 10% of applicants for the pass indicated that they had never taken the train before.

The Brussels Times