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The strike is initiated by the three major railway unions ACOD Spoor, ACV Transcom and VSOA. Various files within the railways gave rise to the social action, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the decision to halve the so-called start-up time of train conductors – the time they are given to prepare their first train – to 10 minutes .
According to the NMBS, the start-up time has been 20 minutes for 25 years, but due to technological progress it no longer has to be that long. The unions believe that train conductors do need the 20 minutes and dismiss the intervention as a cost-saving measure.
Which trains are not running?
As a result of the strike, NMBS developed an alternative timetable, based on the staff of both NMBS and rail network operator Infrabel who have indicated that they will work.
According to the NMBS website, half of the IC trains would run between the major cities on both today and Thursday. As for the suburban S-trains and the local L-trains, this concerns two in five. Most P trains, which operate during the morning and evening rush hours, have been canceled.
The NMBS emphasizes that the train offering in some regions may be different on Wednesday than on Thursday. The railway company asks travelers to always consult its travel planner.
To accommodate the canceled trains, alternative routes have been provided, with the exception of two routes: the Aalst-Burst line is completely at a standstill, and for Thursday it will be the Hasselt-Mol axis. However, with such an adjusted itinerary you may have to make a transfer.
An example. Today it is not possible to travel with a direct IC train between Turnhout and Antwerp, but provided a transfer at Mechelen station, people traveling from Turnhout can still end up in Koekenstad.
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Back at the table
The unions and the management of the NMBS will sit around the table again on Thursday. This is an attempt to save the social dialogue, which could determine the beginning of December. The unions have announced a second 48-hour strike from Tuesday evening 5 to Thursday evening 7 December.