Belgium rail strike leaves travellers stuck

6th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

A rail strike in Belgium brought train travel to a near standstill in the French-speaking half of the country on Wednesday, while all services connecting Brussels to London and Paris were scrapped.

Only 15 percent of services were running in the EU capital of Brussels and the French-speaking region of Wallonia, compared with 68 percent of trains running in the Flemish northern half of the country, the SNCB operator said.

Eurostar trains to Brussels from London all stopped at the French border city of Lille, while all Thalys services to and from Paris were cancelled through Thursday.

Unions in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders controversially dropped out of the two-day strike against job cuts, stoking tensions with their francophone colleagues who pushed on with the walkout.

The SNCB rail service is one of the country's last remaining national services and the Flemish N-VA party, the country's biggest, quickly seized the opportunity to urge an outright split of the train network.

"If rail workers strike in French-speaking Liege, the Flemish traveller going from Ghent to Brussels has a problem," said N-VA leader Bart De Wever, who is also mayor of Antwerp.

Car traffic in Brussels, already one of Europe's most congested cities, was markedly heavier on Wednesday, authorities said.


© 2016 AFP

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