The national rail authority SNCB has triggered its pressure plan at stations in Bruges, Ghent, Brussels and Leuven, as the crowds head for the coast on the first really sunny day of the year.
The plan consists of holding passengers back before the go to the platform, to prevent congestion on the platform itself before the relevant train arrives.
However according to photos posted on Twitter, the plan seems to only have the effect of keeping the congestion inside the enclosed station hall instead of allowing it onto the open-air platform.
While the plan itself has only been triggered from Leuven on, the stations on the whole Liege-Ostend line are reporting large numbers of passengers.
“If a train is already full, we will no longer allow additional passengers,” a spokesperson for the SNCB said, explaining the rule.
“That way we keep things safe together. We also ask passengers to keep their distance while waiting. We provide sufficient space for this.”
For passengers intent on travelling to the coast, the SNCB advises consulting their app, which indicates how busy trains are.
“That way you can see how busy it is on the train you want to take. Based on that, you can decide to take a train later,” the spokesperson said.
“Het is goed weer dus willen we naar de zee” dacht heel Brussel .... “en nog liefst met de trein ook, want dan ben ik alleen” ??... al een chance da Securail iedereen op een hoopje houdt en niet het perron op laat, zegt ... #wtf #covid19be #coronamadness #NMBS #pendelpret pic.twitter.com/2FUckZjFC8— Jonas Wallecan (@Jonazzty) February 20, 2021
The problem, however, is that people are unwilling to wait for the next train, aware that it too is likely to be overloaded with people who waited for the next train.
In addition, the idea of waiting for the next train is likely to be less attractive to passengers returning home this evening, packed in like sardines at the stations of Knokke, Blankenberge, Ostend and De Panne.
The Brussels Times