Punctuality at the SNCB deteriorated in the first five months of the year, prompting the national railway company to review its targets downward, L’Avenir reported on Friday, based on an internal document. In 2016, the punctuality of Belgium’s trains was 89.2%, short of the targeted rate, then set at 90%. In 2017, punctuality slipped to 88.3%. Between December 2017 and February 2018, it increased slightly to 88.5%, before slipping again to 88.3% between February and April 2018, and to 87.2% in April – June.
Projections for 2018 show that the SNCB will end the year on 87.2%, which means the initial target of 89% will not be met. The railway company has now confirmed that this year’s target is being reviewed. “We need to aim at attaining a final rate of punctuality of about 88.0%,” it stated in its document.
SNCB Spokesman Bart Crols cautioned against any excessive pessimism. “It’s true that punctuality has decreased in recent months, but this is an observation that should not cause pessimism,” Crols said. “On the contrary, the SNCB is doing everything (with our partner Infrabel) to reverse this trend and for the punctuality curve to move upward once again. We analyse first, then we take action. A company that places its customer at the centre does not down arms.”
The lines on which trains are most often late are in Wallonia. The Walloon Backbone has the worst record: its trains were on time 68.5% of the time from January to May. It is followed by Mons-Ath-Geraardsbergen (74.7%) while the lines linking Herstal to Verviers-Central and Namur to Dinant and Luxembourg had punctuality rates of 75.4%.
The layout of the Walloon network – vast, hilly and with more works – and the network’s outdated nature have been blamed for the delays.
“Punctuality is less good in Wallonia even if that’s not where we have the majority of our customers,” the spokesman said.