Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tues 9 March - Belgian Trains

Another day, another incident involving one of Belgian's trains. This time nothing as serious as the awful collision 3 weeks ago just outside Brussels, but it's now the 3rd time since I've moved here that something has happened to a train either at, or one that has travelled from, Mons train station. The first happened within my first few days here. So, not only can they not drive their cars, it also seems they can't drive their trains either.

Some of Belgian's recent problems on its railways are being blamed at the EU for not enforcing tough safety standards on all its trains. Apparently, Belgian trains are yet to be fitted with an emergency break system, and having such a thing, it is argued, may have prevented the crash on 15 February, but I guess that's merely conjecture at the moment. Doesn't fill me with the greatest deal of confidence considering I travel to and from Brussels quite often and rely on the trains for my work.

Others have argued that the problems with Belgium's trains are merely another symptom of a deeper malaise running through its society. There have been quite animated concerns voiced about the state of its education system, adequacy of its police service, and a general worry about the 'over-generosity' of its welfare state. If you add the huge linguistic and cultural divide to the pot, you can see that Belgium is just like any other country grappling with the kind of issues that afflict so many other European states.

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