In 2016 the rail company issued fines to fare-dodgers worth over 43 million euros. So far only 9% of this amount has been collected. The total amount of uncollected fines issued to fare-dodgers since 2012 topped 296 million euros.
A Belgian rail spokesman blamed the time-consuming and complicated procedure required to get the fines paid. The rail company is obliged to dispatch a bailiff if it wishes the fines to be paid by tardy payers. Dimitri Temmerman: "We really do undertake action to get the fines paid. We send several reminders. If people ignore these or contest the fines we have to initiate a legal procedure to recuperate the money."
Belgium's federal government is currently working on a system that should allow Belgian rail staff to issue administrative fines of its own. This will go faster and it will be harder for fare-dodgers to avoid, but they still will be able to contest the fines. Administrative fines do away with the need to undertake legal action if fare-dodgers fail to cough up. The government's legislation still needs to be approved by parliament.