SNCB wants to increase train ticket prices by 10%
SNCB management wants to make train tickets about 10 percent more expensive from February. The proposal has been delivered to the board of directors, which has "taken note of it" but has not yet given its approval. This is what De Tijd and L'Echo write on Saturday.
The price increase consists of indexing tickets by 8.73 per cent plus another 1 percentage point for meeting punctuality targets: 9.73 percent in total. That mark-up applies to season tickets. Flat-rate tickets such as Youth and Senior increase less sharply. In contrast, the fares of the NMBS part in the general public transport tickets City Pass in Antwerp and Ghent rise more, by 12.5 percent.
SNCB is being hit hard by the energy crisis. 90 percent of the more than 3,800 trains running daily do so with electric propulsion. That makes NMBS the country's biggest electricity user by far. While SNCB paid €123 million for electricity in 2020, that will rise to €223 million this year and €432 million next year.
On top of that, with 18,000 employees, SNCB is still one of the country's largest employers, so it also faces a significant cost increase due to the indexation of wages. This will cost the company 165 million euros next year.
Electricity and staff cause almost half a billion euros in extra costs at the railway company. This comes at an unfortunate time. SNCB is still recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, which saddled it with a financial loss of 1 billion euros. At the same time, passenger numbers are still not at pre-COVID levels, which means revenues are lagging behind.
SNCB has already taken austerity measures, but they are no more than a drop in the ocean, writes De Tijd. The planned fare increase also offers only limited relief. It is expected to generate almost 70 million euros in additional revenue.
The company is therefore looking at the Belgian government and national Mobility minister Georges Gilkinet. Earlier this month, he proposed scrapping the low VAT rate of 6 percent on train tickets, a measure that would cost 100 million.
© BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE