The current train service in Belgium is enough to cover the existing passenger demand, the SNCB stressed on Monday, in response to criticism of its decision to scrap about 95 rush-hour trains.
The occupancy rate of the scrapped trains on Friday, before the measure was taken, was only 30% to 35%, the national railway company said.
Belgium’s authorities have asked people to work from home whenever possible to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) and that has greatly reduced the number of people travelling from home to work.
The SNCB said on Monday that the decision to scrap some trains was well thought out and had been made in consultation with the Government.
Critics reacted immediately to the decision by the railway company. Virologist Marc Van Ranst said on Sunday evening that he found it “stupid” since it would cause trains to be more closely packed.
However, the SNCB argued that there is no problem with the number and availability of trains, even if frequentation data for Monday was not yet available. Moreover, many employees of the SNCB itself have been absent from the job.
The SNCB’s move was approved by the TreinTramBus travellers association, which described it as “logical” given the circumstances.