€365 million of federal recovery plan goes to Belgian rail
As part of the federal recovery plan, Belgian rail will receive an envelope of €365 million. The plan is to increase accessibility in train stations for the disabled, favor multimodal transport by welcoming bicycles, develop an online ticket platform, and repair and maintain the railway network, resulting from drastic underinvestment.
As part of its plan to restart the economy and think ahead for the post-pandemic times, Belgium allocates 672 million euros to all forms of public transport, spread between federal and regional projects.
Accessibility and maintenance
A note filed to Europe by the Federal Mobility Minister, Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), outlines the plan’s major objectives. Accessibility to train stations sits on top of it. According to the Minister, 25 stations will become “autonomous” by 2024, and works needs to be done to ease accessibility for the disabled.
This goes through building lifts, ramps, and standardized 76-cm-high platforms, as well as a sufficient number of disabled parking spots. The final aim is to upgrade 250 stations by 2030 and complete 90% of all stations in Belgium.
Intermodality is also on the federal government’s agenda, but the goal here is to increase the share of cycling around train stations, with bicycle parks and shared bikes. Gilkinet also likes to bring the SNCB to the 21st century to develop an online ticket platform.
Pushing rail freight
Finally, on the infrastructure, maintenance and construction works are much needed on the famously underfinanced Belgian rail. Many bridges and tunnels are in dire need of repairs, and they slow traffic down. The Mobility Minister also announces an upgrade for the North-South Brussels junction, with traffic management going digital.
To reduce greenhouse gases, the Belgian government also plans to push for rail freight transport. It wants the transport capacity on its territory to be doubled by 2030. Upgrades are planned on the rail axis linking the ports of Ghent (North Sea Port) and Antwerp to Germany, and the one connecting Antwerp to the South of Europe, to name but a few.