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SNCB comes joint second in European cyclists survey

Illustration picture shows a bike on a train in Brussels, Tuesday 08 June 2021. (BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND)
09:11 08/07/2021

Belgian rail operator SNCB has been placed equal second-best alongside its Swiss counterpart SBB in a survey rating European railway companies in terms of service and infrastructure for cyclists.

Only the German-Dutch consortium NS-DB, which manages the Amsterdam-Berlin international route, is ahead of the Belgian and Swiss companies.

SNCB received an overall score of 76% in the survey conducted by the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), which was published on Wednesday,

Six criteria were evaluated by the ECF: the space available for bicycles on trains, the existence of an efficient bicycle rental system, the price of a "bicycle" ticket, the channels available for booking such a ticket, the availability of information in several languages, and the usability of the company’s website.

SNCB did not receive the maximum score for any of these indicators but was awarded a good score on each of them, which led to it being awarded second place overall. The number of bicycle seats available per train is nevertheless one of the key elements of the Belgian company’s good performance, the ECF said in its report.

Among the shortcomings noted included the ban on embarking or disembarking a bicycle at Brussels-Central station, and the lack of information available concerning unconventional bicycles such as cargo bikes, tandems, etc.

"This very good ranking awarded by these international associations of cyclists rewards the efforts of our railway company," commented the federal mobility minister Georges Gilkinet.

"At my request, SNCB and its employees have developed an ambitious long-term strategy for the combination of cycling and rail. This is a very comprehensive approach, with bike parking, self-service bike promotion and better communication with travellers,” the statement continued.

“Already this summer, the improvement is noticeable, because it is now easier to take your bike on tourist trains to the sea or the Ardennes. This is encouragement to be even more ambitious in the future. There's still work to be done, but it's a good start."

Written by Nick Amies