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Belgian railway to launch flexible ticket for remote workers
Following the pandemic’s disruption of commuting habits, SNCB is introducing new rail fares that reflect the ongoing work-from-home reality for many workers.
People who do not need to travel to work every day will soon be able to benefit from new flexible train tickets, announced Belgium’s deputy prime minister and mobility minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), reports RTBF.
“The formula, which was tested in 2022 with seven companies, is ready,” and will be available in the first trimester of the year, he said. “It’s adapted to new ways of working, always with the aim of attracting more people to our trains.”
There will be four ticket options to choose from. Commuters can opt for 80 or 120 days’ travel in 12 months, or formulas allowing six or 10 travel days a month.
With more than 60% of people with season tickets working from home two to three days a week, this tariff will suit people who travel by train, according to the minister.
“It is primordial that this offer [of different tariffs] will be able to change in line with commuter behaviour. The establishment of this flexible ticket meets an increasing demand for this type of product,” said Gilkinet in a letter to SNCB chief executive Sophie Dutordoir giving the green light to the project.
On-board tickets more expensive
The national rail company also announced that buying a ticket on the train would carry a €9 instead of €7 supplement to the standard price: “We want to remind passengers that the aim is to buy their ticket before they get on the train,” said an SNCB spokesperson, who pointed out that there was always at least one ticket machine in every station.
SNCB says that fewer than 2% of commuters buy their tickets on board. Half of them buy them from ticket machines, 30% use the internet or the SNCB app and the remainder go to the ticket office.
The €9 tariff had stayed unchanged since its introduction in February 2015. The price hike is in line with SNCB’s average annual tariff increase of 8.73% from 1 February.
Airport train supplement also rises
The ‘Supplement Brussels Airport’ (also known as ‘Diabolo’) added to every trip to and from Brussels Airport also rises slightly next month, from €6.20 to €6.40 each way.
This is the second increase since the supplement was initiated in 2009 to repay Northern Diabolo, the private partner of the Diabolo project, for the underground rail link between Brussels Airport station and the Schaerbeek-Mechelen line.
Photo: © Belga/Benoît Doppagne