Belgian rail earns €35 million a year from first class

About one in 40 train passengers chooses a seat in first class on a Belgian railway company train. This resulted in an added value of  35,1 million euros for NMBS/SNCB last year, says Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo).

According to the minister, about 2,5% of all travelers take a seat in a first-class carriage (2% of subscribers and 3% of occasional travelers). Together, first-class passengers account for about 5% of revenue, or thus an average annual additional revenue of about 35,1 million euros for the domestic train service. These percentages have hardly changed in recent years, Gilkinet adds.

Clear demand for 1st class

That are no plans to abolish the more expensive first class as there is a clear demand for this among customers, especially daily commuters and the business public. With the comfort offered in 1st class, NMBS/SNCB also wants to attract additional travelers. On average, a customer in first class pays 50% more.

When trains are crowded, a train conductor can always decide to declassify the unused seats in first class so that everyone can sit anywhere. Pregnant women travel in 1st class from the 6th month of pregnancy onward without a supplement if they have a valid ticket for 2nd class and a pregnancy certificate stating the expected date of delivery.

Call for gates against fare-dodgers

At the same time, NMBS/SNCB is also losing a lot of revenue due to the phenomenon of fare-dodging. Controllers and train attendants caught nearly 377 000 travelers without a valid ticket last year. That’s an average of over a thousand undeclared passengers per day, while in reality, the number of fare dodgers will be a lot more. “Install access gates on the platforms so that control can be more efficient,” the political part of N-VA now says.

NMBS/SNCB considers access gates an “interesting track”, but spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman points out some challenges. “We would then have to digitize all our tickets so that they are compatible with the gates. We would also have to check that the gates would not have an impact on passenger flows so that no traffic jams are created.”

And then there is the cost. NMBS/SNCB has signed a management contract with the government for the next ten years. “Gates are not part of that,” the spokesperson says. Moreover, fare-dodgers can also still simply jump over the gates or join other travelers in the lock system in the case of control gates sealed with heavy glass.

Last year, NMBS/SNCB started preventive ticket control by Securail security officers at platform entrances or on the platform itself. The railway company thus wants to avoid discussions between passengers and train attendants on board the train, as discussions about invalid tickets are the main cause of aggression against train staff. Such checks are being forced up this year.


Ready to join the conversation?

You must be an active subscriber to leave a comment.

Subscribe Today

You Might Also Like

%d bloggers like this: