Belgium launches free rail pass scheme

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Credit: Belga/A Gekiere

After several delays, Belgian railway company SNCB launched a website on which citizens can apply for their promised free rail pass, on the last day of the summer holidays.

The free pass, which holds 12 free trains rides for every Belgian citizen over 12 years old, was part of a government decision to revive the tourism sector after the coronavirus crisis by promoting travel within the country.

As announced last week, the pass will only be valid from 5 October, but applying for one will be possible from today until 30 September, on the website hello-belgium.be.

Anyone who has applied for one, will receive the paper rail pass by post after 8 to 10 days, according to the company. The pass will be registered to your name, and travellers will be able to use it for a maximum of two journeys per month, for a six-month period.“The aim of the measure is to encourage Belgians to take the train to discover or rediscover our beautiful country and all its facets or to make a journey of their choice,” said François Bellot, Federal Mobility Minister in a press release.

The twelve-journey pass is valid on all SNCB trains, across the entire Belgian railway network. Passengers must fill in their pass before boarding the train, and show it to the train conductor together with their identity card.

“The start date for the use of the rail pass was postponed by the National Security Council from mid-August to 5 October. Of course, we will continue to closely monitor the epidemiological situation, Bellot said.

The website has been experiencing technical difficulties throughout the day, with reports of long loading times and an error message. These issues, however, appear to be quickly fixed.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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