Belgian rail to issue administrative fines itself from now
Belgian railway company, SNCB/NMBS, and Belgian railway infrastructure manager, Infrabel, will introduce on Thursday a new system of administrative fines. The simpler system with shorter time periods should increase the pressure for fraudsters or bad-mannered users. The law states that agents should be identified with a nametag but unions are worried about repercussions.
Currently, SNCB/NMBS agents draw up the so-called irregularities declaration (C170) and in the major part of cases (95%) it concerns fraudulent passengers without a train ticket. To receive the amount of the fine, which isn’t directly paid on-site, the railway operator uses external service providers, such as collection companies, bailiffs or lawyers. That system is costly and not very effective.
Taking example on other systems from municipalities and other public transport companies, the SNCB/NMBS decided to apply an administrative fine system. From Thursday onward, any employee noting an offense will write a note to the sanctioning officer at the latest within two months.
The latter will decide whether to impose an administrative fine and warn the offending user who will have fifteen days to defend himself. After that time, the fine may be imposed and notified to the offender by letter. A period of appeal will then be opened at the Police Court. At the end, the fine will become enforceable via bailiff if unpaid. For Infrabel, that system will fine people trespassing on train tracks.
The law states that any sanctioning officer should be identified by a nametag showing the surname and the first letter of the name. On that matter, unions are worried about repercussions. “In the field, railway officers are reluctant and afraid of potential reprisals”, explains CGSP Cheminots President, Pierre Lejeune.
SNCB/NMBS officials and spokesperson say that they simply respect the law. The socialist union has therefore asked to meet with Home Affairs Minister, Jan Jambon (N-VA), to obtain derogation from this identification obligation for railway workers only.