Belgian Rail and railtrack company convicted over Buizingen tragedy

A court in Brussels has convicted Belgium’s state-owned rail company, the NMBS, rail track operator Infrabel and a Belgian rail driver in connection with the Buizingen rail disaster in Halle (Flemish Brabant) in 2010.  Nineteen people were killed and a further 310 were injured in the tragedy.

The rail company and the rail track company are both being fined 550,000 euros. The train driver, who was found guilty, is not being punished because he was “just the last link in a chain”. Prosecutors had sought fines of 700,000 and 650,000 euros for the companies as well as, initially, a three-year suspended sentence for the driver because he failed to stop at red.

It was in February 2010 that a local train operating between Braine-le-Conte and Leuven crashed into the Intercity from Quiévrain to Liège at Buizingen. Serious shortcomings surfaced during the investigation.  These centre on erroneous safety choices, political responsibility as well as shortcomings in the rail track infrastructure.

The trial was delayed after the driver insisted that proceedings took place in French.