Last year's stats are in and they make grim reading for Belgium's trains. Just over 14% of trains were late in 2010. By late, they mean reaching its destination 6 minutes late. I have a real problem with this. Isn't late, later than the time advertised? When I wrote a letter to every newspaper in Britain a few years ago complaining about the punctuality of a certain train in the south west of England, I was informed that a train has to be more than 10 minutes late in order for it to be counted as actually being late.
Now, if I turn up 5 minutes late to catch my train, it will probably have since departed. I missed my train because I was late. But, if a train departs 5 minutes late in Belgium, it is actually on time. I'd love to know what the Germans would class as late. I recently watched a report about the "Bullet" trains in Japan. They are rarely more than a minute late. In fact, they are delayed on average by as little as 6 seconds. Ridiculously efficient.
Belgium's trains fared even worse in rush-hour periods: 16% were late during the morning rush-hour, and 21% late for commuters coming home. I have to say, my own experience of them has actually been very good (this comment will curse me in the months ahead no doubt). I'd estimate that for the route I use, they've been on time at least 90% (possibly more) of the time.
And that concludes my geekiest blog entry yet.