NMBS/SNCB: Trains more punctual, and better refund for 100 000 commuters

For the first time since August, more than nine out of ten NMBS/SNCB trains ran on time in March, i.e., with less than 6 minutes delay upon arrival in Brussels or at the ultimate destination. According to the NMBS/SNCB, these are “the best punctuality figures since the full resumption of rail traffic after the COVID-19 crisis and outside the holiday period.

It could be an argument to lure commuters back to the Belgian national railway, especially now that it appears that employees who take the train to work and are not entitled to a third-party payer scheme will have to pay less for their train season tickets from this summer. Those who commute to work by train or bus will be reimbursed 71,8% of their season ticket cost from 1 July, compared to 56% currently.

90,2% punctuality

If only delays are considered, the punctuality of domestic trains was 90,2% in March, compared to 87,9% in March 2023 and 89,9% in March 2022. The lowest point in punctuality figures dates to November last year when less than 82% of trains ran without delays.

If the more than 3,700 canceled trains are considered, punctuality drops to 87,4% for March. That, too, is the best figure since August last year. Over the past six months, overall punctuality has been consistently below 85%. According to NMBS/SNCB, rolling stock has become more reliable. There was also less impact from infrastructure.

Better commuter compensation

Starting this summer, some 100,000 commuters who take the train or bus to work will be able to count on a refund of at least 71,8% of the season ticket price, compared to 56% today.

In addition, the federal government will now intervene for 7,5% of the season ticket. The National Labour Council (NAR) has approved a new collective agreement for this purpose, says Mobility Minister George’s GIlkinet (Ecolo). The employee, who now accounts for 44% of the season ticket price, will see that share drop to about 20% as a result.

According to De Standaard newspaper, the commuter fee will be adjusted annually until 2029 to absorb part of the price indexations and increases by NMBS/SNCB and regional transport companies such as De Lijn and MIVB/STIB.

The agreement also strikes for the first time the reimbursement of a Flex subscription, a special subscription formula for employees who regularly work from home and only commute to the office two or three days a week.


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