Transport issues and dealing with failure

I was intending to post a lengthy rant about the state of the Belgian trains today. There is a bit of track that keeps on having problems: over the last few weeks, we have had signalling problems, a broken down train, and a failure at a level crossing. Inevitably enough, these types of issues always to train cancellations and delays.

When this happens on the way to work this isn’t that big of a deal. I am able to work from home and will do so if there is any problem at all with getting to the office.

It’s more of an issue when I have finished work for the day and walk into the station to find a stream of delays and cancellations being announced. Alternative routes need to be sought and I have to start rethinking at what time I will be home.

It was at this point that I was going to start complaining but, if I’m honest, it isn’t that bad.

Nothing is perfect, of course, and problems will always arise. What really matters is how effectively these problems are dealt with, and in this respect the Belgian train operator, NMBS, does a pretty good job.

While at the station, there are plenty of announcements and electronic displays to tell me which train I need to be catching and, once on the train, there are further announcements telling me not only at which station I need to change, but also which platform I need to be heading towards. Furthermore, the NMBS app provides a good overview of the state of the route, expected and actual
delays, and estimated arrival times.

All of this means that it remains very easy to know what is going on, where I need to be and how much of a delay I can expect. And the final delay was only half an hour, which really didn’t make much difference to anyone.

Failures happen. How an organisation deals with these is important. It’s nice to see this being taken seriously.

8 thoughts on “Transport issues and dealing with failure

    1. Obviously nothing is perfect, but the trains do run pretty smoothly overall, and when there is a problem they are very good at letting you know what is going on.

      If you are planning to visit Belgium by train, I would recommend the NMBS app. It makes it very easy to plan your route, as well as keeping you up to date with departure times and any delays.

      And for such a small country, there is a lot to see and do here 🙂

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      1. Thank you! I know there is, so I hope I’ll see at least a bit of it. 😊 I’m planning to visit Brussels, Ghent, Bruges and Ypres in about a week.

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          1. Bruges is a very Medieval city, so it’s really nice place to just wander around in. I believe you can book a guided tour if you want a more structured walk. And I know that you can take a horse and carriage ride around the streets as well if you’re feeling a bit lazy 😉

            And you must go up the Belfort in the Markt. The view from the top is stunning.

            As for places, the Bruges Beer Experience is worth a visit and De Halve Maan brewery in the city centre is open to visitors. I haven’t been to this one yet, but fully intend to do so one of these days 😉

            Alternatively, there’s the Chocolate Museum if you prefer something a bit sweeter 😉

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