But the rail authority SNCB/NMBS, Bellot pointed out, already offers rail transport within Brussels, with around 30 stations on the S network, which covers stations from Berchem-Ste-Agathe to Boitsfort, and from St-Job in Uccle to Haren on the border of the region. Meanwhile on social media, many public transport users pointed out that the STIB has trouble maintaining its services by tram, bus and metro, without venturing onto the railways.
Bellot likened the Brussels network to a roundabout on a busy road. Not only do trains carry passengers from the provinces to the capital and back again, Brussels also serves as a link between cities as far apart as Ostend and Eupen or Ghent and Liege.
“Sending out trams over the Brussels railways would be like cars that drive eternally round a roundabout without ever coming off,” Bellot said. “It would amount effectively to splitting the network into three parts: one for Brussels, one Flemish and one Walloon. Is that really what people want, hen you consider the loss of operational efficiency that would follow from splitting the SNCB into three branches?”
The rail authority itself declined to comment. “It is up to the four mobility minister to come to a common standpoint,” a spokesperson for the SNCB said.