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The SNCB is abandoning the operation
of unprofitable international trains

 SNCB Press Release, 14 Feb. 2003
The framework for the operation of international rail services in Europe has been changed drastically, which has inevitably had an impact on the available services.

Until recently, the cost of operating a conventional (= non-TGV) international passenger service was shared between the various railway companies concerned. But even then, few of these trains were profit-making. Now, each international train must be regarded as the responsibility of a single company, which incurs all the costs but also receives all the revenue attributable to it. The SNCB thus has to decide which of those now terminating in Belgium will attract sufficent revenue to justify its future operation, taking into account that it has little scope for reducing most of these costs as they are inevitably incurred outside Belgium.

The search for possible solutions

The SNCB has analysed the options in depth with the aim of identifying how best to adapt its services to this new situation, while ensuring that they are economically viable. One obvious option would be to increase the prices charged so that they cover the costs. But, taking into account the increasing competition, especially from low-fare airlines, this does not appear to be a realistic approach.


The SNCB Administrative Council has decided today to discontinue operation of all its overnight trains (conventional trains and car-carrying trains) with effect from 14 Dec. 2003.

The only overnight trains running to and from Belgium from that date will be those running nightly between Brussels and Vienna (operated by Austrian Railways) and between Brussels and Berlin (operated by Die Bahn). And the nu mber of car-carrying trains to be operated this summer between Belgium and the south of France (Narbonne and St-Raphael) will be reduced with effect from 1 August 2003. However, the service between Belgium and Bologna will run as already advertised.
translation by Alan Reekie

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