Renovation to begin at Vilvoorde station

Summary

The rail authority and infrastructure company are to get together to work out an urgent approach to renovating the station in Vilvoorde after the city threatened legal action

“Architectural ruin”

The rail authority NMBS is to examine how to carry out in the short term the long-awaited renovations to the station in Vilvoorde, after the city threatened court action.

The promise comes in a letter from NMBS boss Jo Cornu in response to a legal challenge filed by the city of Vilvoorde last month, reported in De Standaard. Vilvoorde mayor Hans Bonte had applied for a penalty to be applied to the NMBS for each day the works were further postponed.

Vilvoorde station has been described as “an architectural ruin” by the public transport users group TreinTramBus. Plans for a thorough renovation date back to 2008. Last year the rail infrastructure company Infrabel announced a budget of €20 million and a timetable for works, which would begin in the summer and last for six years. The plans were shelved in November for budgetary reasons.

The station has problems with its platforms, staircases and underground passages. “There is a consensus here that the station has to be dealt with urgently,” Bonte said in November. “There are safety concerns. It is not accessible to wheelchair users or people with pushchairs. Delay is certainly not an option, unless people think it would be better for the station to close.”

According to the Cornu letter, the NMBS is to get together with Infrabel to work out an “urgent approach”. The works would not need to wait for the multi-year investment plan that will be negotiated after the holidays, Cornu says.

“For the first time in this whole episode I’m cautiously optimistic,” Bonte told the paper. “But I will remain vigilant. I hope things can now move ahead, so that a judicial solution is not required.”

Photo courtesy VRT

NMBS

Belgium’s national railway system was established in 1926 and is the sole provider of passenger train traffic in the country.
Overhaul - Starting in 2014, the railway system will operate under a two-pronged structure with transport division NMBS and infrastructure operator Infrabel. The umbrella organisation, NMBS Holding, will disappear.
Trio - NMBS comprises three organisational units: NMBS Mobility, NMBS Europe and NMBS Technics.
Criticism - The rail authority has frequently made headlines with continuing delays. The most common causes for delays are malfunctioning trains and infrastructure glitches.
223

million travellers in 2012

87

percent of trains on time in 2012

43

percent increase in female employees since 2005