Belgian rail to check tickets before boarding for safety

Anyone taking an NMBS/SNCB train from now on will have to show their ticket more often before boarding. More officers from Securail, the public railway’s security service, will be deployed for this purpose.

NMBS/SNCB thus wants to avoid discussions between travelers and train attendants on board the train, as they are the main cause of aggression against train staff.

Up to 40% of fare-dodging on some trains

According to Hendrik Vanderkimpen, head of security at NMBS/SNCB, on average 4% of travelers do not have a ticket, but there are peaks of up to 40%. Trains with many students and to and from major events stand out in this regard.

More generally, trains during off-peak hours are more susceptible to fraud than those during peak hours. According to Vanderkimpen, the corona crisis favored not buying a ticket because there were fewer checks on trains then. After the health crisis, train conductors resumed doing more checks, but some travelers are proving thick-headed.

58 checks a day

Therefore, preventive checks by Securail security officers before boarding are now being ramped up. “Securail will henceforth organize random ticket checks at stations every day. They can take place at any time, in any station,” says NMBS/SNCB spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman.

In the first two months of the year, Securail agents carried out some 3 500 checks, accounting for some 200 000 travelers checked.

With these checks, NMBS/SNCB wants to signal to travelers that they should buy a ticket before boarding, but also to limit the discussions about tickets on board. Of the 1 900 cases of aggression against NMBS/SNCB staff that were reported last year, 60% more than in 2019, almost half had the do with such discussions. Anyone buying a ticket on board the train will pay a 9-euro surcharge.

Automatic gates

NMBS/SNCB does not rule out that gates could be installed in stations in the future, as is already the case at Brussels Airport train station. That would be an even more effective measure against fare-dodging. “It is a route we are not ruling out,” Vanderkimpen says, although it does not immediately seem like something for the near future.

Such gates, for instance, are not in the recently signed 10-year contract with the government and consequently no budget has been provided for them. “For that, all tickets would first have to be digital, and the impact on passenger flows and also the cost would have to be looked at,”, NMBS/SNCB spokesperson Temmerman further nuances.

Anyway, as many as 150 extra Securail agents will be recruited this year. The agents are also authorized to carry out identity checks and draw up a charge.


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