First class rail carriages ‘hardly used’
5 April 2005 BRUSSELS – Very few Belgian rail passengers choose first class, according to the latest figures available. On Tuesday, Le Soir reported that only 8.7 percent of SNCB turnover in 2004 came from first-class tickets.
A total of 5.6 million passengers travelled in first class carriages, compared to 5.5 million the previous year.
The vast majority of passengers went in second class – 159.5 million out of a total of 165 million.
The figures from the National Institute of Statistics show rail travel increasing in popularity, largely thanks to a government scheme introduced in March 2004 to subsidise rail commuting for public sector workers.
Last year, the total number of passengers climbed from 155 million to 165 million.
The number of passengers using the train to travel abroad, however, stagnated, remaining at 13.4 million.
Tuesday’s figures may fuel the arguments of some politicians who want to see first-class carriages axed.
Last month, a proposal was launched by the francophone socialist Karin Lalieux (PS), which won support from the social democrat Public Enterprise Minister Johan Vande Lanotte.
Lalieux argued: “By opening up first-class carriages to all, the SNCB could avoid those absurd situations where passengers are standing up in second-class while first class is half empty.”
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news