The numbers were supplied at the request of the Flemish nationalist MP Tomas Roggeman (N-VA). The unused premises cover a total area of almost 140,000 square metres.
"The station buildings have been empty for years and are in a state of decay. Nevertheless, some of them are real landmarks and local attractions in urban centres", says Roggeman. He wants the NMBS to address this problem, because the abandoned sites can spoil the image of local urban centres.
The NMBS confirms the figure of 185 empty buildings, but puts things into perspective. "The 199 stations are no longer accessible to the public, but many are still being used by rail staff, or boast a temporary function such as a cycling hub or event hall. We are selling the empty buildings which have no function left, about 10 stations each year." At this moment, 4 station buildings are for sale.