Infrabel has asked the SNCB to cancel around 100 trains every day heading to and from Brussels from mid-October to mid-November. The SNCB, in turn, has expressed fears that the scale of such cancellations could affect up to 68,000 commuters in the autumn, or one in four Brussels morning rush hour commuters.
More specifically, the Belgian infrastructure managerial organisation has requested that the SNCB not run any trains at peak times (‘P-trains’) to and from Brussels. Infrabel is due to modernise the train infrastructure south of Brussels-Midi station this autumn. According to Infrabel, this “essential” work will require the complete closure of the North-South Brussels junction during the long weekends of 1 and 11 November.
But, to the SNCB’s great surprise, major disruptions are also expected from 14 October to 8 November, with Infrabel intending to close no less than 30% of train traffic at the Brussels South station – a significant reduction.
“We regret once again to learn from the press that Infrabel is making a decision which goes against common sense and without taking into account the impact on travellers,” said Gianni Tabbone, spokesman for the travel association Navetteurs.be. “After the threats of line closures, Infrabel now requires the SNCB to cancel numerous trains for one month to carry out its work without taking into account the impact on 68,000 passengers who already suffer many inconveniences on a daily basis.”
“This measure once again demonstrates the problems of collaboration between SNCB and Infrabel. We cannot accept these train cancellations and ask Infrabel to review its intended policy as a matter of urgency,” added Mr Tabbone.
This opinion is shared by the Flemish commuter association TreinTramBus. “The traveller is once again the victim of communication problems between SNCB and Infrabel,” the association said in a statement.
A final decision on whether the planned cancellations will go ahead will take place in the middle of next month.