18 November 2004
BRUSSELS – The Belgian government on Thursday promised low fares and free parking to loyal train users.
Budget minister Johan Vande Lanotte said that rail company SNCB owned 35,000 parking spaces and only charged for 30 percent of them. Most of them were not reserved for rail customers – and he wants that to change.
“It’s not normal that these car parks are part of town planning at the expense of transport policy,” he said.
“That’s why I want these car parks closed and freely accessible to those with rail passes. Occasional travellers will have to pay.”
Vande Lanotte has earmarked EUR 100 million over the next five years to introduce control systems at the car parks and to up the number of spaces by 10 percent.
The minister said he was pleased that SNCB had attracted 6 percent more passengers in 2004, made 8 percent more from ticket sales and had 6 percent more freight business.
He added that he wanted the company to achieve the same increases next year.
He put the improvements largely down to season ticket deals with companies and said the SNCB was negotiating with an extra 2,000 firms with a view to offering more deals.
He said he wanted fares to stay low, with low price rises for commuters and higher price rises only on tickets sold to infrequent passengers.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news