This morning rail companies informed at 11am that train traffic will be partially closed at 2pm. This belated decision was met with a storm of criticism. With travelers who fear they will not return home, and with the Minister of Mobility describing this as “unacceptable”. At noon, several passengers were looking for a moving train at the Gent-Sint-Pieters train station.
Trains in our country have been partially stopped between 2 pm and 6 pm due to inclement weather. This was announced by NMBS and Infrabel this morning. In West Flanders, train traffic has stopped completely. In East Flanders, this applies to ninety percent of the lines. Main lines around Antwerp will also be suspended. There are temporarily no more trains to Lier, Mechelen and Noorderkempen. There is also no traffic between Mechelen and Brussels, but there is between Mechelen and Leuven.
“We recommend getting home before 12pm or after 6pm and limiting your travels as much as possible this afternoon,” the message from NMBS was at 11am this morning, at a time when many passengers were traveling by train. for work. The decision, which falls under the authority of infrastructure manager Infrabel, has been criticized on social media.
“Put your clients in your pocket well,” wrote Robin de Sterke under the NMBS ad. “Be able to leave for work in the morning, but never come home.” De Sterck talks about “incompetence”.
Many travelers note that the Dutch railways have already announced yesterday that they will temporarily stop the movement of trains.
There is also criticism from a political angle. “It seems that in this country it’s hard to anticipate things that you know are coming,” says Representative Bjorn Ansio (N-VA). “This could have been completely prevented.” Joris Vandenbroek, an advanced MP, calls the “delayed and inadequate communication about a storm known since yesterday the worst in 30 years” as a “fatal mistake”. “The commuters of the train deserve better than these amateurs.” Vandenbroek says he will question Mobility Minister George Gilkennett (Ecolo) in Parliament.
Gilkennet’s government has already said he is not pleased with the delayed decision either. The minister called this “unacceptable” and has already reprimanded Infrabel CEO Benoit Gilson. Cabinet says there will definitely be an assessment meeting on the intervention.
Frederic Petti, an Infrabel spokesman, says the rail company has been “following the situation closely for a few days”. Based on the information available on Thursday evening, we have postponed a decision to shut down the network. The hope was to be able to maintain all or part of the train’s planned movement. We always try to ensure maximum movement of trains. In the Netherlands, this is interrupted more quickly – we have already seen this in previous storms. This is a different culture.
On Friday morning, hope turned to vain, after which Infrabel decided at the last minute to close a significant portion of the traffic. “This late decision has put pressure on rail operators and may also have caused inconvenience to rail customers,” Petty said during Friday afternoon. “Infrabel apologizes to everyone affected by this late decision.”
An evaluation of the decision will later follow, with which Infrabel wants to “learn lessons”.
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