Fewer people will choose the train to get around in the coming years. On the other hand, traffic jams on the road threaten only to increase. This is stated in the new Transportation Forecast to 2040, which was developed by the Federal Planning Office in cooperation with the Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transportation. Mobility Minister George Gilkinet (Ekolo) said in response that he is doing his best to make the train more attractive and thus not to make the planning office’s predictions come true.
The two sides see the “saturation of demand for passenger transport” in the coming years. By 2040, the average mileage per person in Belgium – if the policy remains unchanged – will be 1 per cent lower than it was in 2019. This is said mainly as a result of the popularization of telework, which means that fewer of people traveling to and from work.
The train in particular will be affected by remote work. According to forecasts, the demand for passenger rail transport will decrease: -3 percent in 2040 compared to 2019. This is due to the fact that “the standard profile of train users corresponds quite well with the standard profile of the working population who can and want to work remotely. “.
Mobility Minister George Gilkennet notes that the outlook is based on unchanged policy compared to 2019. But the current federal government has expressed ambition and has already taken measures to make the train more attractive. “We are reversing the previous trend of rail disinvestment: we are working on an attractive train offering for both passengers and goods,” Minister Gilkennett said. “The intention is for the train to be chosen more often among the various transportation options, so that the prospects for the planning office are not realized. Because the train is good for the climate, for our energy independence, for our health and for greater road safety.”
King’s car is still dominant
The Planning Bureau and FPS Mobility also expect that people will travel a lot on foot or by bike in the coming years (+35 percent by 2040). But the “royal car” is still quite dominant: the share of the car in passenger transport will remain 82 percent in 2040 (compared to 83 percent in 2019).
However, the Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peters, described the planning office’s forecast for cycling and walking trips as “promising”. “In Flanders, we have an ambition to increase the bike share of functional trips to 20 percent by 2025 at the latest. The figures from the Planning Office, +35 percent by 2040, will say we will achieve that,” the minister replied, to the transport forecast developed by the Office of Planning. Planning in cooperation with the Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transport. Peters also notes that this year an investment of 328 million euros has been poured into a safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure.
With about five additional trucks on the road by 2040, the study predicts “a decrease in speed on the road network due to traffic congestion. During peak hours, this speed drops by 10 percent to 11 percent on major hubs in the region.” and about the concentrations of Antwerp and Ghent, and 6 per cent elsewhere in Belgium.”
Due to stricter standards, emissions of greenhouse gases and particulate matter … from road traffic will be much lower in 2040 than in 2019.
NMBS “looks to the future with confidence”
Rail company NMBS does not share the Federal Planning Office’s pessimism about the future of passenger rail transport. The National Bureau of Statistics announced this in a response Tuesday evening. The railway company says it sees an encouraging trend and is looking to the future with confidence.
However, NMBS for its part is smoothing out this possibility. “The numbers are rising, but not beyond the 2019 level,” NMBS acknowledges. The railway company aims “by 2032 to increase 40 percent of leisure travelers and 25 percent of commuters”. And NMBS says it will do everything possible. “To encourage travelers to choose the train,” but at the same time stresses that investment resources are needed to “face the future with confidence.”
In order to accommodate the impact of telecommuting, NMBS is relying on developing a subscription that is more convenient for people who only go to work a few days a week.
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