NMBS/SNCB train passenger slightly less satisfied with service

Belgian national railway company NMBS/SCNB’s train passengers were slightly less satisfied with the service in 2023 than the previous year, as shown in the company’s activity report. On average, passengers gave NMBS a score of 7,17 out of 10. In 2022, this was still 7,26 out of 10.

This is a new way of calculating customer satisfaction. Before, customer satisfaction was expressed as a percentage: the proportion of customers who gave the service at least 7 out of 10.

A new way of calculating

Now, the score is calculated based on different sub-scores for, for example, the provision of information in the station and on the train, cleanliness, comfort, or satisfaction with staff. This new score calculation also makes comparisons with previous years difficult.

According to the old calculation model, 69% of travelers in 2022 said they were satisfied with NMBS/SNCB’s service, i.e., at least a score of 7 out of 10. This was a decline after peaking during the coronavirus years 2020 and 2021, but customer satisfaction was still higher than in 2019, before the corona pandemic broke out.

Three indicators behind expectations

In terms of customer satisfaction, NMBS/SNCB is within the range of the twelve performance indicators set out in the public service contract that the company concluded with the federal government. Seven indicators are included in the total, which also includes the availability of rolling stock, the number of autonomously accessible stations, and the number of parking spaces.

NMBS/SNCB is lagging expectations for three indicators: punctuality, the number of minutes of delay for which the railway company is responsible, and the number of canceled trains. Punctuality has improved in recent months: in the first half of 2024, it stood at 88.9%, compared to 87.6% in the first six months of 2023.

NMBS/SNCB, on the other hand, is doing better than forecast for the two remaining indicators: providing information to passengers in the event of disrupted traffic and consuming traction energy.


If NMBS/SCNB meets its targets, it can earn the railway company a financial bonus, or it will get less money if they are not achieved, a bonus-malus system. Consequently, a malus will be charged for three performance indicators and a bonus for two performance indicators. Their final amount will be settled in the railway company’s annual accounts.

According to the public service contract, the bonus-malus system can earn NMBS/SNCB an extra 5 million euros in the best case and a 5 million euros loss in the worst case.

Silence carriages

NMBS/SNCB has also decided to introduce silence carriages in general. A pilot project on some trains in 2023 was a success, so more trains will have such a quiet seating area in the future. More details are not yet available.

Passengers were also surveyed during the pilot project on the Eupen-Ostend and Brussels-Luxembourg trains. Seven in ten favored quiet zones, and three said they would take the train more often if such zones existed.


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