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SNCB happy with tests of reservations on coast trains

© Dariusz-Sieczkowski/Wikimedia

The rail authority SNCB has expressed satisfaction with tests carried out last week of a system allowing people to reserve a seat on trains to the coast from four inland stations to four stations at the coast.

The test came at the request of the mayors of coastal towns themselves, who last summer were faced with over-full trains arriving at their resorts filled with people who had just been travelling in conditions far from corona-safe.

The tests concerned 20 reservation-only trains, travelling direct from Brussels South, Liege, Antwerp and Ghent to four coastal destinations: Knokke, Blankenberge, Ostend and De Panne.

A reservation must be made in advance, and costs one euro extra on top of the usual price. Rail users were happy to pay the supplement, the SNCB said in a first reaction to the tests, for the sake of a safer environment during the journey.

The authority will now evaluate the experiment. In the meantime, the plan is to continue with reservation trains in the summer, aimed at day-trippers.

However the idea of booking seats in advance may deter some from using the system. Day-trippers often take the decision to go to the seaside on the spur of the moment, depending on the weather forecast for the day.

In other rail news, trains are currently not running between Mechelen and Brussels Airport in both directions, after damage to overhead lines. Personnel from rail infrastructure company Infrabel are on site to repair the damage. Passengers are advised to travel to the airport via Brussels.