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More than 15% of trains delayed or cancelled in last six months

11:05 12/03/2024

Belgian train punctuality in February was higher this year than last year, but the six-month trend shows that more than 15% of trains were at least six minutes late or cancelled, according to rail infrastructure manager Infrabel.

Punctuality stood at 88.2% compared with 86.2% in February 2023, but taking into account the 4,200 cancelled trains the figure falls to 83.8%.

About three-quarters of delays are attributed to “third parties”, such as accidents on the tracks.

Infrabel recently launched an action plan to further increase safety and punctuality on Belgian rail network, saying that the number of level-crossing accidents and of track walkers was down slightly in 2023, but had much greater impact on train traffic.

Two specific new measures include the further roll-out of LED lighting at barriers for better visibility at level crossings and the application of stickers with “in an emergency call number 1711” at all public level crossings.

The number of accidents at level crossings (31 accidents, six fatalities) and the number of reports of track walking (632 reports, five fatalities) in 2023 decreased slightly compared to 2022, but doubled compared to 2021.

Infrabel pointed out that apart from the human tragedies, incidents at level crossings also caused disruptions and delays for train traffic. In 2023, there were 324 incidents which together caused a delay of 52,925 minutes or an average of two hours and 25 minutes worth of delays per day.

This is an increase compared to 2022 when there were 349 incidents (average one hour and 47 minutes per day) and a near doubling compared to 2021 (average one hour and 18 minutes per day).

“I am pleased with the support of the government and the various ministers from their domains to tackle this social problem together through an action plan, because rail and road safety and quality and punctual train traffic are essential for everyone in our society,” said Infrabel chief executive Benoît Gilson said.

“I would like to appeal once more to all road users and citizens to always respect the traffic rules at level crossings, along the tracks and in stations. A human life is worth so much more than saving one minute of time.”

Written by Helen Lyons