Belgian Rail: complaints about delays soar

9th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The ombudsman charged with the Belgian Rail Service NMBS received a record number of complaints about delays last year.

Many members of the travelling public are also unhappy with the information provided or lack of it when a train service is delayed.

In 2007 the NMBS ombudsman processed 5,518 complaints. This is double the number compared to only five years ago.

Over 1,200 complaints involved delays.

Ombudsman Guido Herman: "Most passengers think information is important. They also want to get the information at the right time. Often the information is patchy or completely absent."

The NMBS ombudsman is also concerned about the number of train breakdowns.

This can lead to services being cancelled or crowded trains.

Despite clear efforts, the ombudsman has identified punctuality, train capacity and providing correct information as points the rail company needs to address.

Infrabel, the company that operates the Belgian rail network, insists that it is making an effort to provide lots of information. Punctuality figures are posted every 3 months.

Rail travellers can also get real-time information about delays on the website

The company concedes that delays remain a problem.

It is taking action though. They say that overhead power lines are being renewed and more mobile engineering teams will be on the job.

2008 figures were better than those in 2007.

Infrabel blames some of the problems on staff shortages and says it needs to recruit 400 extra staff.

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