STIB/MIVB sees opportunity to use rail network in Brussels
In an interview published Saturday in economic newspapers, L’Echo and De Tijd, Stib/MIVB CEO, Brieuc de Meeûs, declared that vehicles from the Brussels public transport could run on SNCB/NMBS rail inside the Region in 2023.
Flemish Mobility Minister, Ben Weyts (NV-A), reacted positively, pointing out that Flanders had the same desire. On the other hand, Federal Mobility Minister, François Bellot (MR), sees in that claim an attempt to regionalize the rail.
“In 2023, the liberalization of the rail will happen and some parts of the Infrabel network will be available in Brussels,” declared Stib/MIVB CEO, Brieuc de Meeûs, in an interview, “the question is whether the Brussels public transport could exploit this network.”
“After all, we’re a public transport operator whatever the means. We haven’t technically studied this solution yet, but I find this idea very elegant.”
‘Question the federal monopoly’
Ben Weyts, Flemish Mobility Minister, reacted positively to Mr de Meeûs’s claim and pleads for a regional control over the rail network in Flanders.
“The STIB/MIVB and the Brussels Region are right to question the rail company monopoly”, declared the Minister, “I gladly follow their logic. If we receive the control over rail in Flanders, we could at least coordinate the current public transport offer of buses and trams with the trains.”
Mr Weyts hopes that a single Flemish transport company will see the light one day. That way, it could introduce a single ticket concept that will combine all public transports, as is the case in London.
“Add to that shared cars and bikes or even taxis and you have an efficient and innovative answer to the climate challenge”, continues the Minister, joining Mr de Meeûs’s idea of an all-inclusive package.
Bellot not amused
Federal Mobility Minister, François Bellot, in charge of the SNCB/NMBS, isn’t excited by Brieuc de Meeûs’s proposition. According to him, it would clog the Brussels rail network and would, consequently, separate the country’s network into three.
“Politically, it amounts to regionalizing the rail”, he concludes. “Is that really what we want, seeing the loss of operational efficiency that created the split of the SNCB/NMBS into three companies?”
The national railway company, SNCB/NMBS, doesn’t want to enter the political discussion. “It is up to the four Mobility Ministers to find a common ground”, said the company’s spokesperson.
What about free public transport?
In the interview, Brieuc de Meeûs had the opportunity to declare that he was against the Walloon Christian democratic Cdh’s idea of making public transport free.
“I’ve always said that public transport has a value and that it must be compensated by a payment. There are solutions to adapt prices to the socio-economic profiles of the Brussels population”, explains the STIB/MIVB CEO, “but that debate isn’t mine. I do my job in the conditions that are fixed to me.”