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Compensation in offing for delayed commuters

Published on June 13, 2006

13 June 2006

BRUSSELS — Passengers caught up in Monday’s rail delays on the Brussels-Denderleeuw line will be compensated for their inconvenience, the federal government has indicated.
Public Enterprises State Secretary Bruno Tuybens said a compensation system was agreed in the most recent contract with Belgian rail NMBS-SNCB. That system must be in place within coming weeks or months.

Commuters who encounter lengthy, one-off delays or regular short delays in future can expect compensation.

And in regards to Monday’s delays, Tuybens’ spokesman said the NMBS-SNCB “would not be permitted to remain insensitive to those problems”.

Meanwhile, the NMBS-SNCB has rejected a proposal from Christian Democrat CD&V MP Jef Van den Bergh that commuters should be alerted via mobile phone text messaging if lengthy delays are expected.

“Such a system would firstly ensure that passengers are well informed over possible problems on the line. Communication to passengers is not really a priority of the NMBS,” Van den Bergh said.

Van den Bergh said when purchasing a season ticket, commuters could provide the rail authority with their mobile phone number. The NMBS-SNCB could then alert commuters to any delays on that line by text messages.

But the NMBS-SNCB said it has already examined such a system and decided it is not financially viable.

Passengers in the Netherlands already pay for such a system, but the Belgian rail authority said the service should be provided for free to passengers and is thus too costly.

Repairs to the Brussels-Denderleeuw were partially completed at about 4am on Tuesday after overhead cabling broke due on Monday due to the warm weather. Temporary repairs allowed trains to travel over one track.

Minor delays were therefore still being reported on Tuesday and it is hoped the second line will be re-opened by 6am on Wednesday.

The cabling problems on Monday left 1,400 passengers stranded on three trains and led to delays during the evening rush-hour. Problems were also reported on the same line on Sunday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news