“Choc-a-block trains. You know it means trouble.”

Rail passengers heading to the Flemish coast for a bracing day out face a new challenge starting today. Only windows seats may be used by the over 12s.

It’s one of the measures Belgian governments introduced to stem the spread of Covid, but Bart Tommelein (liberal), Mayor of our premier seaside resort Ostend, says the measure could have been avoided if the state-owned rail company had put grease to its elbow and introduced a registration system very much like the one that operates on Ostend beaches during the summer.

The inclement weather forecast for Easter may put you off, but scenes last week show the coast remains extremely popular as a destination for a day out, especially now foreign hols are off the menu.

The window seat only measures only affects services bound for stations on the Flemish Riviera, but applies to the entire journey.  The rail company fears that at busy times the measure will disrupt many a journey and not only for people heading for the coast.

Mayor Tommelein believes it is the only option for now: “The rail company should have taken action far sooner.  There were problems on trains and at stations last year.  There were plans to manage passenger numbers.  They did sweet nothing.”

The former secretary of state for the North Sea believes the window seat only measure is necessary now during the Easter break to manage crowds.

“When a situation arises, action has to be taken.  Choc-a-block trains in a full-blown pandemic and with hospitality closed and shopping by appointment… You know it means trouble.  You have to take action to cut seat occupancy by half.”

“If the rail company is willing, they can put a registration system in place within a month.”

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