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SNCB restricts free bike travel to coast and Ardennes
Two weeks after allowing bikes on Belgian trains free of charge, the SNCB has announced new restrictions because the measure proved too popular.
Non-folding bicycles will not be allowed from 18 July to 30 August on trains arriving at the Belgian coast before 13.00 each day. The new rule also applies to trains to Arlon, passing through the Ardennes.
During the peak summer period, passengers will not be allowed to return from the coast or Arlon with a bike between 16.00 and 20.00.
The number of bikes carried on SNCB trains has grown by 80% year on year since 1 July, when the requirement to buy a bike ticket was lifted until the end of the year.
The SNCB said it had received complaints from passengers about bicycles blocking passageways, doors and access to toilets and disabled spaces. The Belgian rail operator will run extra trains to the coast and the Ardennes this summer to meet growing demand.
Cyclists must still print out a free "bicycle supplement" ticket from a machine. Folding bikes remain allowed at all times, provided they are kept under a seat.
The SNCB says passengers with a bike should speak to the train conductor when boarding, to find out where best to park their bike. They could be turned away if the train is too busy.
Free travel for bikes was one of the measures announced by the federal government to encourage domestic tourism in Belgium, alongside a free 12-journey rail pass for every Belgian resident, due to launch next month.