NMBS approves 26 billion euro rail investment plan

The NMBS Group has approved a 26 billion euro investment plan for Belgium’s rail network. The investment programme will be spread over 12 years between 2013 and 2025. The state owned rail company will ask the Federal Government for more than 24 of the 26 billion euro it plans to invest.

Although the NMBS Group has approved the investment plan, the federal and regional governments must also give it the thumbs up before it can be implemented.

The lion’s share (24.225 billion euro) of the money would come from the Federal Government while 770 million would come from the fund that finances the Regional Express Network around Brussels, 344 from alternative sources and 236 from NMBS Group’s own means.

5,228 billion euro is ear-marked for improvements to safety, 16.1 billion for improving rail service, 2 billion for infrastructure and 1.5 for so-called priority projects in Flanders and Wallonia to ease the strain on the rail network within Greater Brussels.

The NMBS’ spokeswoman Leen Uyterhoeven says that it is an ambitious plan.

"It includes a whole range of things that are needed such as new trains, additional lines and investments in stations. All this will be spread over a period lasting until 2025.”

The investment plan will be sent to the Federal Minister responsible for state-owned companies Paul Magnette (Francophone socialist). In turn Mr Magnette will forward it to the regional governments.

NMBS Group made a 2.1 million euro profit during the first 9 months of the year. This compares to losses of 110 million euros in during the first 9 months of 2011.. The NMBS’ total debts amount to 3.5 billion euro.