SNCB CEO warns of congestion on Belgian railways with international operator expansion

If additional international companies allow trains to pass through Brussels, it will be at the expense of SNCB's services, said the railway company's CEO, Sohpie Dutordoir, during a hearing at the Parliamentary Committee on Mobility.

Dutordoir addressed foreign operators' intentions to introduce international rail connections. Six operators want to run trains between Amsterdam and Paris via Brussels in the next few years. These include both high-speed trains and regular services.

"There is a lot of competition in the market," says Dutordoir. "In the short term, the question is how the network operator (Infrabel, ed.) and Belgium will deal with these different requests and what priority will be given to the trains operated by the public service providers."

Additional international connections will have an impact on SNCB's offer: "If two operators are added, ten public service trains will disappear during rush hours," says Dutordoir. "If even more are added, up to 50 public service trains will have to disappear."

Dutordoir refers to the rush hour train from Ghent-Dampoort to Brussels. This has been running an hour earlier since last week, to the dismay of many passengers, because it had to make way for a Eurostar.

Dutordoir also pointed out that rail congestion is already affecting the punctuality of trains in Belgium. According to SNCB data, 88 per cent of trains were on time this year up to October. Congestion had a negative impact of 2 percentage points on punctuality.


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