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Mobility minister wants a train every 30 minutes at all Belgian stations
Georges Gilkinet, Belgium’s new mobility minister, wants the SNCB to increase the frequency of the country's trains, with a service passing at least every 30 minutes. Currently, in small stations, a train passes every hour or every two hours.
A train should depart every 30 minutes at every station in the country. In large urban areas, this should be every 10 minutes, he believes.
The minister hopes that this ambitious train schedule will convince people to do without their cars in favour of more affordable and environmentally friendly alternatives, he says.
The minister wants the national rail operator SNCB to place more emphasis on the availability of trains and staff during off-peak hours, particularly in the evenings and on weekends. He also wants to better distribute passengers over the whole schedule – easing commuter congestion at peak hours – and explore how fares can play a role in this. The SNCB has long wanted to introduce flexible fares to stimulate off-peak travel.
Gilkinet is also keen to explore the creation of quiet zones on trains, where commuters can work in peace, and separate family zones where discussion is allowed. The new government has said it will grant the SNCB exclusive subsidised domestic passenger transportation for an additional 10 years.
According to EU regulations, Belgium must in principle allow competition on the railways by 2023, but thanks to a "direct allocation" the government can grant SNCB a monopoly for even longer.