1 in 17 Belgian trains cancelled in January, highest number in over four years
More than 6,000 Belgian trains were cancelled in January, the highest number in at least four years, according to figures on the open data website of rail network operator Infrabel. Train punctuality, including cancelled trains, fell to 82.6 per cent last month.
Twice as many trains were partly or fully cancelled in January 2024 as in January 2023, the highest number since the start of 2020. This represented 5.8 per cent, or one in 17, of all Belgian trains running in January.
Snow and ice
Rail network manager Infrabel and rail operator SNCB point to the weather in January, with several days of snow and ice. "The impact of the snow on 17, 18 and 19 January alone - the three most disruptive days - caused the punctuality rate for January to fall by 2.1 percentage points."
Nevertheless, SNCB is responsible for the majority of delays and cancellations in January, with 45 per cent and 54 per cent respectively. The weather is classified as a "third party" cause of delays, a category that also includes people on the tracks and level crossing accidents, which caused a third of cancellations last month.
SNCB and Infrabel also say the increasingly busy rail network "ensures that in the event of an incident, as we saw last month with snow and freezing temperatures, there is much less margin to deal with it. This has a knock-on effect on other trains, causing additional delays".
Including cancellations, punctuality was 84.6 per cent for the whole of 2023, meaning that more than one in seven trains was cancelled or delayed by at least six minutes during the year. "The priority for the rest of the year is to restore punctuality and meet the targets set in the public service contract," the companies said.
© BELGA PHOTO JULIEN WARNAND