Belgian rail drops plans for trains without conductors

Belgium’s state owned rail company, the NMBS, has shelved plans to operate trains without conductors for an indefinite period.  The company says that both technically and financially obstacles remain.

Belgian rail has been looking at operating driver-only trains, so called “one man cars” for several years now.  Fresh research reveals that the company’s present trains cannot be used in this way and require the intervention of a conductor.   

Belgian rail spokesman Dimitri Temmermans: “Trains need to be equipped with cameras and mirrors to allow the train driver to assume surveillance over the train.  This isn’t possible in practise at the minute.  Platforms too could be equipped with cameras and mirrors, but the study shows this is too unsafe, especially in the case of long trains or platforms that are not straight”.

One man cars were a pet project of former rail chief Jo Cornu.  The present rail chief Sophie Dutordoir has never been a great supporter. She believes that conductors play a crucial role and allow trains to leave safely, for passengers to be informed and for tickets to be checked. 

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