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Packed Ostend-Brussels train comes to a standstill after youths cause problems

A train carrying about a thousand day-trippers back from the coast on Sunday evening got stranded in the Merelbeke area just outside Ghent after Brussels youths had caused problems. They first pulled the emergency brake and next got out to walk on the tracks, interrupting all services on the busy line. It took one hour before the train could resume its journey, police are investigating the incident. 

The train left Ghent's Sint-Pieters Station around 7:20 p.m, yesterday but came to a standstill around 7:30 in the Merelbeke area. "We soon suspected sabotage", says Belgian Rail spokesman Dimitri Temmerman. "But it's the police doing the investigation. If they find evidence of malicious intent, then we are talking about a serious offence."

This morning federal police spokeswoman An Berger supplied some more information: "The train was carrying about 70 youths travelling from Ostend to Brussels. In Merelbeke somebody pulled the emergency brake, which caused the train to stop. Soon after, some youngsters left the carriage and started wandering around on the track beds. Eventually things calmed down and the train managed to resume its trip." 

When the train arrived at the Brussels Zuid Station (Midi) rail police questioned the youths, taking their identity and writing an official note. The judicial authorities are now treating the case. 

The train stood still for about one hour. Passengers got free water in Brussels. 

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