Brussels metro network interrupted daily by trespassers on the tracks

The number of disruptions on the Brussels metro network due to people trespassing on the tracks has risen by 146 per cent in five years, BRUZZ reports. 

In 2023, there were 384 interruptions to the network, up from 144 in 2018. Public transport operator STIB attributes this to a rise in the number of homeless people seeking shelter in the stations and in tunnels, and drug addicts avoiding police checks. 

“They look for a place to shelter or to use, but they risk their lives," said STIB spokesperson An Van hamme. People walking on the tracks risk being hit by vehicles and electrocution.

STIB shut down metro lines 2 and 6 between Ribaucourt and Elisabeth earlier this week because of reports of two people on the tracks. Half an hour later, the people were located and metro traffic resumed. “This is almost a daily occurrence,” said Van hamme.

More police in stations

To cope with the problem, she says efforts must be made to adopt a coordinated approach to drug problems in Brussels. More police on the streets and better coordination of those involved on the ground were agreed in the regional security council at the end of February.

According to Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt of Flemish green party Groen, there should be a greater police presence at metro stations. At the end of February, Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf, of francophone liberal party MR, decided to restrict homeless people and drug users sheltering at Merode metro station to two areas. 

"We have to work with these people and direct them to the correct places"

“However, that is not a working solution to the problem,” said Pieterjan Desmet, spokesperson for Van den Brandt. “Providing separate zones in the Brussels metro is a short-term solution to nuisance, but not a long-term one. We have to work with these people and direct them to the correct places.” 

The number of people using drugs on the metro is also increasing, BRUZZ reports. Between January and October 2022, there were more than 1,200 reports of drug use on the STIB network, a 70 per cent increase from the previous year. 



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