Infrabel blames poor train punctuality on Siemens
The Belgian rail infrastructure managing company Infrabel is convinced that a train detection system delivered by Siemens is to blame for 9.000 minutes of delays in this year’s first trimester and demands immediate action from the German provider.
1 hour 40 minutes delay each day
“This equipment has an essential function in the train traffic fluidity”, explains Infrabel, “because the train localization system has an effect on the traffic lights. If the system fails, the lights will stay red and all traffic will stop.”
During the first three months of this year, 125 traffic disruptions could be traced back to an axle counter dysfunction. They have caused a total of 9.000 minutes of delay or 1 hour 40 minutes each day. It’s twice as much as the same period last year, according to Infrabel figures.
The German consortium Siemens has been chosen to install its axle counters on the Belgian rail in May 2017. Currently, about one hundred systems have been put up and 600 others still should come.
According to newspapers De Tijd/L’Echo, Infrabel has decided to cancel any installation of the axle counter in question (AC 100) until Siemens fixes the problem. This system is also essential to the deployment of the new European train control and security system (ETCS) to be put up in 2023.
Infrabel asks Siemens “to take responsibility, to make every effort as soon as possible to provide a solution to the chronic reliability problems met by the equipment provided”. At Siemens, a source confirms that they “haven’t clearly identified the problem yet”.
Worse punctuality than last year
Infrable and NMBS/SNCB figures also show that trains have been running late for seven consecutive months. In March only 88,5 % of passenger trains arrived in time, compared to 89,5% in 2017. Also, in February, 3.400 trains were cancelled, but the NMBS/SNCB says the strike is to blame.
A third of the delay in March was due to a ‘third party’. Track runners cause six hours of delay every day and incidents cause about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
In December Minister Bellot denounced the ‘unacceptable’ punctuality figures and pointed out to the NMBS/SNCB their obligation towards less train delays. Since then, a system has been put up to detect breakdowns faster and investments have been made to equip employees with 6.000 smartwatches.