Traffic jams push people onto the train
Although customer’s satisfaction and punctuality of the Belgian public rail is at an historic low, the number of commuters travelling by train has been going up for the last two consecutive years (+3%). Where frequency of the trains increased, the number of passengers went up too.
In 2018, about 8 million extra rides were registered, achieving a total of 243 million, an absolute record. Since 2008, these figures never have been higher.
The increase is not coincidentally linked with the introduction of the new transport plan of public railway company, NMBS/SNCB, which will result in 5,1% extra trains between December 2017 and end 2020.
Fed up with traffic jams
One out of five stops will be serviced more frequently. The number of trains went up where demand was most important, mainly on the suburban networks surrounding Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels.
According to the most recent investigation into people’s travelling behaviour, for the first time in many years the use of the car went down. Winners are the bicycle and public transport. “People are so fed up with traffic jams that they’re looking for alternatives”, is the conclusion of the mobility researchers.
10.000 extra seats
For NMBS/SNCB the increase of passengers is a challenge, since the equipment is outdated and punctuality of the trains recently appeared to be worse than ever.
“That is why the new double-deck carriages, the so-called M7 trains, are so important”, says Bart Crols, spokesman for NMBS/SNCB. “Normally they should have been delivered last September but there is a delay until half 2019.”NMBS/SNCB hopes to be able to offer 10.000 extra seats by 2020.
Not only equipment but also infrastructure needs improvement. “NMBS/SNCB urgently needs a long-term vision”, concludes Stefan Stynen of Treintrambus. “Those new conclusions are the best argument to further invest in the expansion of the offer. Belgian rail has full potential while traffic congestion is still getting worse.”