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SNCB to scale back reduced fares for seniors and large families

15:16 24/02/2024

Belgian railway company SNCB has announced to plans to completely overhaul its fares for senior citizens and large families from 2025, reducing the discount it currently offers them.

Both the Forfait Seniors - for people over 65 - and the discount card for large families will end, drawing criticism from commuter associations.

SNCB spokesman Vincent Bayer said a “new range of fares” will launch from 2024.

“Thanks to this new range, seniors and young travellers will still benefit from a discount when travelling by train,” he said. “They will benefit from a 40% discount, regardless of when they take the train or the route they choose.”

Seniors currently pay a fixed price of €8.30 for all their return train journeys, though the discount cannot be used at peak times.

Since SNCB wants to encourage passengers to take the train more often and during off-peak times, the company plans to launch "a kind of loyalty card with which all passengers will be able to benefit from an additional discount during off-peak hours", the SNCB spokesman added.

"And for young people and senior citizens, this reduction will be added to the 40% reduction they already enjoy."

It is not yet clear how people will obtain the new loyalty card, as the initiative is still being worked on.

But non-profit organisation, which represents the interests and rights of rail users in Wallonia, is already calling the future fares "unacceptable".

“I'm a senior citizen and I often travel to Namur, Brussels or Liège from Leuze-en-Hainaut for meetings,” said spokesperson Gery Baele.

"I'm going to end up paying a lot more than I do now. They say they want to attract travellers, but they're doing the opposite.

"Seniors are the very people who are going to take advantage of reduced fares to go sightseeing, to go to the coast, to go to the Ardennes, to go to other places to visit. At the end of the day, the elderly will be penalised."

According to media reports, while short-distance journeys or journeys during rush hour should be cheaper for senior citizens, long-distance journeys are set to increase.

Baele said other commuters have already chimed in with similar complaints.

“The feedback has been completely negative,” said Baele. “I think it's unacceptable. We're paying more and more and getting less and less service. We can always hope that the SNCB and perhaps even the government will change their minds. The elections are coming up. Wait and see.”

Written by Helen Lyons