Punctuality of Belgian trains makes another plunge

The punctuality of trains of Belgium’s public rail company NMBS/SNCB was again lower in February than a year earlier. If canceled trains are included, punctuality was 82,4%. That means more than one in six trains were running with at least six minutes delay or were abolished.

Punctuality figures published on the open data website of rail operator Infrabel show that in February 86,2% of domestic passenger trains arrived in Brussels or the terminus on time or with a delay of no more than six minutes. A year earlier, the figure was 91,1%. But that % does not consider the canceled trains.

One in 20 trains abolished

In February, 4 711 trains were completely or partially abolished. That corresponds to one in 20 trains (5,2%). Punctuality including the abolished trains was 82,4% in February. A year earlier, it was 87,5%.

The incident with the most impact was a breakdown of the signaling system in Zaventem on 4 February. That led to over 7 100 minutes of delays and 78 canceled trains.

Punctuality of 91% is target figure

The punctuality of trains, not including abolished trains, took a dip to 89,2% last year, falling below 90% for the first time since 2018. And more than 38 400 scheduled train journeys were canceled, a record number. Accidents, track walkers, or external factors such as weather are the root of most cancellations, but staff shortages, high absenteeism at NMBS/SNCB, and aging infrastructure also play a role.

In the new management contracts of Infrabel and rail operator NMBS/SNCB, punctuality is one of the criteria on which a part of their funding depends. Punctuality should reach at least 90,6% by 2027 and 91% by 2032.

The Belgian government’s new management contract with the public railway company NMBS/SNCB contains a bonus-malus system. If the NMBS/SNCB does not achieve the performance indicators, it can lose up to five million euros in funds.

New strike

Tomorrow there is also a strike in the public sector in Belgium. Train traffic will be severely disrupted. In total, a third of trains are running, and the rail network will be closed in most of the provinces of Namur and Luxembourg, part of Walloon Brabant (around Ottignies), and between Liège and Huy.


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