SNCB calls for coordinated effort to improve security and cleanliness at Brussels Midi
The CEO of rail operator SNCB has written to the federal, regional and municipal authorities asking them to improve security and cleanliness around Brussels Midi station, citing “persistent problems” in the area.
According to SNCB, the situation in and around the station is “dramatic”, with high levels of anti-social behaviour. CEO Sophie Dutordoir made two requests in the letter: a short-term initiative that will bring immediate improvements, and the creation of a police station close to or inside Midi. Responsibility for security and cleaning is currently divided among numerous authorities.
“A single body should be appointed to ensure coordination between the various partners involved and integration with SNCB’s action plan,” the company said in a statement to Belga.
More than 50,000 people pass through Midi every day, making it the country’s busiest station, as well as being the gateway to Belgium for many international travellers. Additionally, 4,000 of SNCB’s own staff work in the immediate vicinity.
"The international status of these two stations and the image they project of Europe’s capital deserve a structural and proactive approach"
SNCB has agreed to measures including the deployment of Securail security officers and collaboration with partners such as the railway police and local police. It is carrying out more cleaning and physical improvements in the station, and is working on a project to renovate the former Tri Postal building on Avenue Fonsny, which should have a positive impact on the station area.
“However, this is not enough, and the SNCB has neither the resources nor the skills to do it alone,” a spokesperson said. “The safety of passengers and staff is SNCB’s absolute priority, which means that each partner must assume their responsibilities, whether in terms of basic safety, prevention, land-use planning or cleanliness.”
Mobility minister George Gilkinet said on Friday that he “fully shares SNCB’s concerns about Brussels Midi station, as well as the proposal to appoint a body to coordinate safety and cleanliness on the site and in the surrounding area”, adding that the same applies to Brussels North.
“Rather than passing the buck, these entities must better coordinate their actions to ensure safety and cleanliness,” he said. “The international status of these two stations and the image they project of Europe’s capital deserve a structural and proactive approach from the various public authorities concerned.”
© BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE