The federal minister of Mobility replied to Wollants at the end of last year that he proposed to realize accessibility in Lier between 2027 and 2030. “In response to a unique, joint initiative of all Lierse group leaders from the municipal council to give the federal minister of Mobility a writing jointly, Gilkinet even spoke of an absolute policy priority,” says Bert Wollants, who is also Alderman for Mobility in Lier.
“I now hear from the NMBS that nothing will happen until 2032. In fact, there is no guarantee whatsoever after that, because the NMBS simply indicates that not half a euro cent has been allocated until 2032. Minister Gilkinet and the entire federal government therefore simply drop Lier and its less mobile travelers like a brick.”
“In Lier, people with disabilities only get on and off the train via a kind of organized track between the trains. In fact, the minister simply postpones this project. Not even to the next government, but even to the one after that. Minister Gilkinet’s message is therefore crystal clear: they don’t have to count on him in Lier,” concludes Wollants.
NMBS spokesman Bart Crols responds: “At the moment, the negotiations on the new management contracts between the federal government, Infrabel and SNCB for the period 2023-2032 are ongoing. We have no insight into the financial resources allocated to both companies for the period. That is why we cannot commit ourselves to new projects at the moment and logically therefore cannot put forward any timings.”
“For Lier, potential projects regarding the autonomous accessibility of the station and the renovation of the station building have been proposed before. Work will actually take place in Lier during the period in question, but the scope of these works is not yet clear at the moment,” says Bart Crols.
Carla D’Hulst, chairwoman of the Lierse Advice for Accessibility, reacts disappointed to the news. “It is really sad that we now have to wait another ten or eleven years to get to the trains in Lier in an easy way. All these years we have to cross the tracks to the platforms, accompanied of course, but still cumbersome. It is the umpteenth time that those adjustments to the Lierse station have been postponed.”
“It’s cumbersome because, of course, you first have to request your train ride three hours in advance by phone. The NMBS will then send someone by car to the station who will help you across the tracks and onto the train. This is of course done under the necessary safety measures. For example, the supervisor has to wait until he receives a ‘go’ by telephone, which can sometimes take up to fifteen minutes. In the summer that is not a problem, but when it rains or it is very cold, it is less pleasant.”
We also wanted a response from Minister Georges Gilkinet, but his spokesperson referred us to the NMBS. (cvr)