Belgium’s railway company, SNCB/NMBS, is considering the removal of some “P” trains and stops as part of the development of the future 2023-2026 transport plan, as reported by Belgian news outlet Le Soir. “P” trains are the ones that are added during rush hour. Their future will be decided at the next SNCB board meeting on March 30th.
During the discussions that accompany the development of the 2023-2026 transport plan, the SNCB wants to strengthen its offer and make it more efficient, which means improving the punctuality of trains. Among the solutions on the table are the elimination of certain “P” trains and stops where passengers are rare. Some 20 stops could be removed. According to the Brussels Times, the SNCB has sold more than 50 of its stations in the last ten years.
The closure of 20 stops is obviously not an option.Georges Gilkinet, Minister of Mobility
“In the framework of the future transport plan 23-26, the SNCB management will propose important and relevant extensions in terms of train offer as well as other optimizations to increase commercial speed and improve punctuality. This plan will be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval and then to the Council of Ministers,” said the railway company, which will present its solutions to the Board of Directors on March 30th.
The Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet, has already communicated on Twitter that he would oppose this solution proposed by the SNCB directors. “If we have given the SNCB a public service contract and additional resources guaranteed over 10 years, it is, as we have done for two years, to run more trains and provide an even better service to citizens. Not the other way around,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I therefore expect the next Board of Directors of the SNCB to propose an ambitious 23-26 Transport Plan in line with the contract we signed on 23 December last. And the closure of 20 stops is obviously not an option in this context.”
The war in Ukraine has had a domino effect in terms of inflation, causing tensions between employees and management in terms of salary adjustment. According to Le Soir, a two-year agreement between the two parties was reached this month. Management has agreed to recruit 4,000 additional employees to ease the workload, while also expressing that some adjustments would have to be made to be able to reach the company’s goals in the the mid to long term.