Belgium sets aside 365 million euros for ‘long neglected’ railways
The Belgian government will invest at least 365 million euros in railways during the coming years. Railways have been “neglected for too long” in Belgium, and the specific investment will play a critical role in transforming them into the “backbone of the future mobility”. These were the words of the Belgian Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet while announcing the news last Thursday.
Gilkinet underlined that there are “dozens” of projects in the pipeline, including track improvements in the port of Antwerp and the Brussels region. Investments will also target the digitalisation of infrastructure and the improved cooperation with regional transporters such as De Lijn and MIVB. Finally, Gilkinet mentioned that among the plans is the upgrade of the connection between Brussels and Luxembourg and the increased accessibility of train stations across the country.
The 365 million euros constitute a federal contribution to a range of projects that Belgium wants to finance with European money in the coming years. To this end, the “National Plan for Recovery and Resilience” was submitted to the European Commission last week. The Commission will assess which plans are eligible to receive support from the 6 billion euros reserved for projects in Belgium. The European financing is part of the so-called Recovery and Resilience Facility, a European fund of 672.5 billion euros which aims to help European economies get back on track after the Covid-19 crisis.
Gilkinet warns that the 365 million euros are not nearly enough to realise all ambitions and therefore called the federal government “to go beyond the European resources and opt for investments.” Without going into details, the minister said that additional resources are needed to support the NMBS and rail manager Infrabel.