Belgian railways to perform more pre-boarding ticket checks
From now on, train passengers in Belgium will more frequently have to show their tickets before boarding. With the pre-boarding checks, national railway company NMBS/SNCB hopes to avoid arguments between passengers and train attendants on board the train, which are the most common cause of aggression against train staff. Agents of NMBS's security service Securail performed such checks at Brussels South station on Thursday.
For such a check, the security officers will stand at the platform entrances or on the platform itself, where all passengers will be asked to show their tickets. Those who cannot present a valid ticket will only be allowed to board the train if they buy a ticket first.
Preventive checks by Securail officers already started on a smaller scale last year and appear to be paying off. "On average, at these checks, about 4 per cent of passengers do not have a ticket, but there are peaks of up to 40 per cent,'' said Hendrik Vanderkimpen, head of security at SNCB.
The checks are now being stepped up. "Securail will, from now on, organise random ticket checks in the stations daily. These can take place at any time, in any station." Some 3,500 control actions took place in the first two months of the year, accounting for some 200,000 travellers checked, Vanderkimpen said.
The purpose of the checks is not only to signal to travellers that they must buy a ticket before boarding the train, but also to keep arguments about tickets off the train. Out of 1,900 cases of aggression towards railway staff reported last year, approximately half were the result of such discussions. The railway company recently launched a new anti-aggression campaign.
© BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR