A train may be late for a number of reasons:

  • Infrastructure works, planned by Infrabel, that impose speed restrictions on trains around worksites (worker safety, vibrations, etc.).
  • Technical breakdowns of trains, damage to overhead lines, signalling faults, etc.
  • Weather conditions: in summer, the equipment and materials are subject to very high temperatures and in winter, frost may settle on the copper components, which may disrupt the power supply, or a large amount of leaves or ice on the tracks, or flooding or fire risks may force train drivers to moderate their speed for safety reasons
  • The growing number of passengers leads to more people getting on and off at stops, which may lengthen the amount of time a train is stopped at a station. An increasing number of passengers also means the use of longer and therefore heavier trains. More time is needed to leave or stop at a station, even for powerful modern locomotives.
  • Personal accidents: collisions between a pedestrian (or vehicle), out of the SNCB’s control, cause the flow of train traffic to come to a halt on major lines. The consequences extend beyond the intervention of emergency services and the police due to delays accumulated across the whole region.
  • Decisions made by the emergency services for everyone’s safety.

The time required to make up a delay:
When a train is late or cancelled, the shock wave ripples out across the whole network. All trains travelling along these lines must adapt their speed or come to a complete stop, and so must the trains behind them. If the delay occurs on one of the lines converging on the Brussels Nord-Midi junction, the whole network may be affected.

The aim of the transport plan is to improve service reliability. In order to make the schedule more reliable, we have to consider the reality of the situation (engineering works, number of passengers, equipment, etc.). Every day, we transport a growing number of passengers and, as a result, some trains have to stop at stations for longer.
There are other factors in addition to scheduling that also influence the length of a journey (various engineering works incidents, equipment problems, etc.). In any case, we are constantly working to improve punctuality.

Did you have a delay when travelling on the national train network? We’re very sorry about that. You can apply for compensation for any inconvenience suffered, subject to certain conditions.

For details and the compensation application forms, please visit the Compensation page.