Trains with no inspectors, lower prices outside peak-time and maybe even a Eurostar stop at Antwerp could happen soon. These are the most surprising elements to feature in the new provisional SNCB management contract, De Morgen reported on Saturday.
The previous contract ended six months ago, but the new contract has been constantly postponed because of changes within the government and SNCB management.
The most surprising element is the decision to employ fewer inspectors to increase efficiency. There might soon be no-one onboard to stamp tickets on trains that service towns and areas with an average population density. There could be fewer staff at SNCB’s counters in the near future as well.
Travelling by train outside peak-time will become cheaper and the SNCB is likely to scrap their large range of tickets, travel cards and reduced prices. De-servicing stops is no longer a taboo subject. “We could create, get rid of, or merge stops”, the new contract says.
The SNCB will look into making Antwerp a Eurostar stop over the next six months. The railway company will also invest in comfort, in particular raised platforms that will allow people in wheelchairs to board trains more easily.
De Morgen says the government still has to decide whether to pay compensation when a train is late. The provisional contract says that small disputes (less than 2.5 or 4 euros) will longer be compensated. If everything goes as planned, the Minister’s Council will have made all their decisions next week.