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Old 9th December 2016, 15:36   #1
Old Yard Dog
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Default Brussels Centraal worse than Birmingham New Street for last minute platform changes

Travelling from Brussels to Ghent on 7 Dec, my wife and I arrived at Brussels Centraal with two heavy cases at about 1150 and made our way to platform 4 for the 1159 train. One or two minutes before it was due to depart, we were told it would leave from P2. We needed to take a lift up and a lift down to reach P2 and arrived just as it was leaving. The man on the platform said not to worry as there would be another fast train in 15 minutes.

A stopping train arrived at 1211 and we tried to get on it but we couldn't as the doors of the rear carriages were closed (despite passengers for an intermediate station being told to join the last 4 carriages). My wife is not very mobile so we decided to wait for the 1216 fast train instead of running down the platform.

Two minutes later it was announced that the 1216 would depart from P4 instead of P2 and again we did not have time to rush across. By this stage we had missed three trains to Ghent. So we stayed on P2 and eventually caught the 1227 which ran over 10 mins late.

Is there no communication between NMBS signalmen and station staff? It is totally unacceptable to give just one or two minutes notification of platform changes. We are old people who cannot run up and down stairs and need to use lifts. I suppose we were fortunate that there is a reasonably frequent service to Ghent so we only had to wait 50 minutes in total! It could have been several hours if we had been going further.

On our return journey, we ventured to the far (north) end of P11 at Brussels Zuid in order to use the lift. When it arrived and the doors opened, we startled an amorous couple about seemingly to prepare for some horizontal recreation. Obviously the lift is not well used. I was not sure whether she was a lady of the night or not, but I thought the red light district was now around Brussels Nord and Schaerbeek rather than Brussels Zuid.
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Old 9th December 2016, 15:45   #2
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I once had a platform change at Haymarket less than 2 minutes before departure on the Chieftrain heading southwards and only just about made it, I ended up getting on the car where the buffet was with the trolley in the aisle and the East Coast Employee refused to move it because she was on her break and told me and my fiancee to "next time get on the right carriage." If we'd have attempted to do that there is a good chance we may have missed the train.

Experienced the same in Brussels Nord and Zuid as well as you report.
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Old 9th December 2016, 16:32   #3
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I once had a platform change at Haymarket less than 2 minutes before departure on the Chieftrain heading southwards and only just about made it, I ended up getting on the car where the buffet was with the trolley in the aisle and the East Coast Employee refused to move it because she was on her break and told me and my fiancee to "next time get on the right carriage." If we'd have attempted to do that there is a good chance we may have missed the train.
What a shocking way to address a fare paying customer.
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Old 9th December 2016, 16:36   #4
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What a shocking way to address a fare paying customer.
Formal complaint time.
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Old 9th December 2016, 16:39   #5
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I once had a platform change at Haymarket less than 2 minutes before departure on the Chieftrain heading southwards and only just about made it, I ended up getting on the car where the buffet was with the trolley in the aisle and the East Coast Employee refused to move it because she was on her break and told me and my fiancee to "next time get on the right carriage." If we'd have attempted to do that there is a good chance we may have missed the train.

Experienced the same in Brussels Nord and Zuid as well as you report.
I hope you put in a complaint about her -- she had absolutely no right to jumnp to conclusions about why you weren't getting into the right carriage.

And I've had those experiences at Brussel Zuid too!
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Old 9th December 2016, 21:09   #6
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What a shocking way to address a fare paying customer.
It was extremely poor - I had just been in Scotland seeing some friends and was heading back down to Ipswich a couple of years or so ago and the train was already about an hour late (which wasn't a help I guess) during the time when Haymarket had a lot of works going on.

I complained but was essentially told that the platform wasn't changed at the last moment (yet the National Rail and at station monitors both changed at the last moment since I was checking the app to see how delayed the service was) but if the staff did cause offence they apologize.

In the end I just had to brush my own way past the trolley, got a nasty look but there was not much they would do, I asked her if she was going to move the trolley with no answer so I took it into my own hands, felt bad but if she was not going to move it I was not going to wait for the next station.
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Old 10th December 2016, 00:46   #7
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I feel Brussels Midi is worst enviroment than New Street, went outside for a smoke before getting the Eurostar. Litter, a lot of undesirables, kept being bugged for money, signing up for charities etc, and the area outside the station looked drab
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Old 10th December 2016, 13:12   #8
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Midi/Zuid is not pleasant but a lot better than 10 years ago when it comes to security. As to platform changes, I constantly look at monitors in Belgium as I also experienced sudden unannounced platform changes more than once. What I dislike in the UK is that expected platforms are not on the timetable and on station displays also only on short notice
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Old 10th December 2016, 15:25   #9
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I had the same experience at Gent St Pieters when the train to Lille was changed at the last minute. Still at least I learnt what the Dutch for "platform alteration" is. ("spoorverandering")


At Brussels Midi, also listen out for "changement de voie" (French)
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Old 10th December 2016, 15:56   #10
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Originally Posted by Old Yard Dog View Post
Travelling from Brussels to Ghent on 7 Dec, my wife and I arrived at Brussels Centraal with two heavy cases at about 1150 and made our way to platform 4 for the 1159 train. One or two minutes before it was due to depart, we were told it would leave from P2. We needed to take a lift up and a lift down to reach P2 and arrived just as it was leaving. The man on the platform said not to worry as there would be another fast train in 15 minutes.

A stopping train arrived at 1211 and we tried to get on it but we couldn't as the doors of the rear carriages were closed (despite passengers for an intermediate station being told to join the last 4 carriages). My wife is not very mobile so we decided to wait for the 1216 fast train instead of running down the platform.

Two minutes later it was announced that the 1216 would depart from P4 instead of P2 and again we did not have time to rush across. By this stage we had missed three trains to Ghent. So we stayed on P2 and eventually caught the 1227 which ran over 10 mins late.

Is there no communication between NMBS signalmen and station staff? It is totally unacceptable to give just one or two minutes notification of platform changes. We are old people who cannot run up and down stairs and need to use lifts. I suppose we were fortunate that there is a reasonably frequent service to Ghent so we only had to wait 50 minutes in total! It could have been several hours if we had been going further.

On our return journey, we ventured to the far (north) end of P11 at Brussels Zuid in order to use the lift. When it arrived and the doors opened, we startled an amorous couple about seemingly to prepare for some horizontal recreation. Obviously the lift is not well used. I was not sure whether she was a lady of the night or not, but I thought the red light district was now around Brussels Nord and Schaerbeek rather than Brussels Zuid.
Would it be inappropriate to thank you for the advice on the Brussels Red Light districts?
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Old 10th December 2016, 16:14   #11
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Schaerbeek. If you're stranded there, visit the Train World museum

Last edited by duesselmartin; 10th December 2016 at 16:15.
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Old 10th December 2016, 23:26   #12
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Brussel Centraal has an escalator that is already 3 years out of use. Exit to Grasmarkt. There are no spare parts!

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Old 11th December 2016, 11:57   #13
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Originally Posted by heart-of-wessex View Post
I feel Brussels Midi is worst enviroment than New Street, went outside for a smoke before getting the Eurostar. Litter, a lot of undesirables, kept being bugged for money, signing up for charities etc, and the area outside the station looked drab
Indeed, sadly a lot of people get a bad impression of Brussels from judging the undesirable areas around Zuid and Noord. You didn't have to go outside though, you're allowed to smoke on the platform in Belgium as long as it isn't underground!
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Old 11th December 2016, 18:18   #14
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Brussel Centraal has an escalator that is already 3 years out of use. Exit to Grasmarkt. There are no spare parts!

On the subject of escalators, the ones I saw broke down the most were on Budapest Metro line 2, it's excellent at moving large numbers of people, the escalators there run three times as fast as I've known them to be anywhere else, there'd be no way they'd be allowed in the UK for health and safety reasons.
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Old 28th December 2016, 23:27   #15
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Yes we got re-platformed at Midi in May last year when travelling on a Great Train Journey to Switzerland. 24 of us were involved.
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