Expatica news

Belgium gets tough on train thugs

5 May 2004

BRUSSELS – Rowdy and aggressive train passengers could find themselves banned from the Belgian rail network under new rules designed to crack down on railway hooliganism, it was reported on Wednesday.

The new rules, set to come into force on 1 July, will give Belgium’s state-backed rail operator SNCB the right to take tough measures against passengers who threaten or attack its staff.

Aside from banning particularly unruly passengers outright, SNCB’s own security guards will have the right to arrest and fine troublemakers.

And to make sure that railway rowdy passengers do as they are told, the guards will be issued with handcuffs and teargas canisters.

In addition, ticket controllers in Belgian trains and stations will all be issued with mobile telephones under the new plan, so that they can call for help if they find themselves in danger.

Belgian Labour Minister Johan Vande Lanotte says the new measures are needed because the number of attacks on SNCB staff has more than doubled in recent years.

2002 saw 181 attacks on staff, compared with 81 a year earlier.

Railworkers unions have cautiously welcomed the government’s announcement.

Michel Bovy from the Christian trade union CSC said the plan represented a “step in the right direction”.

But he insisted more still needed to be done.

“The number of attacks on trains is still too high,” he said.

“On some lines like Brussels-Charleroi or around the Six Flags theme park in Wavre we are really talking about railway hooliganism,” he added.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news