The Belgian railway company SNCB pays €100,000 each year to hire students and temporary workers to count train passengers, by hand.
The company does that to see at which stations more, or fewer, trains need to be used, according to François Bellot, the Federal Minister for Mobility, reports VRT.
Since October 2017, SNCB hires a group of students and temporary workers every year to count the passengers in the Belgian train stations, together with the railway staff, by hand. Over a period of nine days, the number of travellers getting on and off the trains in all stations on the SNCB’s network is counted.
The hired students and temporary workers cost the company €100,000 per year. For the other staff, counting is part of “their normal performance, so there is no additional cost associated with this task,” said Bellot.
“It is important for SNCB to gain an overview of passenger flows in order to optimise the use of trains and to make the infrastructure in stations passenger-friendly,” said MP Christian Leysen, reports Gazet van Antwerpen. “But this is madness. In the year 2020, there must be more digital solutions,” he said, referring to the metro system in London and the Dutch trains, where wifi is used to count passengers.
An “automation” like that would indeed provide “greater accuracy”, but those technologies also come at a “high investment cost,” said Bellot. However, he added, an experiment is already running in two stations, in collaboration with Proximus.