Brussels Centraal worse than Birmingham New Street for last minute platform changes

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by Old Yard Dog, 9 Dec 2016.

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  1. Old Yard Dog

    Old Yard Dog Member

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    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.
     
  2. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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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.
     
  3. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    What a shocking way to address a fare paying customer.
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Formal complaint time.
     
  5. Senex

    Senex Established Member

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    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!
     
  6. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    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.
     
  7. heart-of-wessex

    heart-of-wessex Established Member

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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
     
  8. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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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
     
  9. duncanp

    duncanp Member

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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)
     
  10. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    Would it be inappropriate to thank you for the advice on the Brussels Red Light districts? :D
     
  11. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    Schaerbeek. If you're stranded there, visit the Train World museum :)
     
    Last edited: 10 Dec 2016
  12. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

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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!

    [​IMG]
     
  13. 317666

    317666 Established Member

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    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!
     
  14. F Great Eastern

    F Great Eastern Established Member

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    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.
     
  15. childwallblues

    childwallblues Established Member

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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.
     
  16. MarcVD

    MarcVD Member

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    Those Escalators are museum pieces indeed. Spare parts are difficult to find or must be machined by the SNCB shops themselves. They have not been left in place for lack of means to renew them but rather as a voluntarily conservation act. But there is a ramp with a very gentle slope going the same way so it's not a problem even with luggage. Storm in a train cup, I'd say...

    Envoyé de mon GT-I9505 en utilisant Tapatalk
     
  17. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

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    How bigger the station; so more hazzle to change platforms. And if you do not understand Dutch and French; it is more difficult! Watch the screens i would say for correct platform information.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. MarcVD

    MarcVD Member

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    Indeed. When I have tight connections in Brussels I always try to change in Central. Only 6 tracks to chose from. 12 in North, 22 in Midi. No brainer.

    Envoyé de mon GT-I9505 en utilisant Tapatalk
     
  19. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

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    This about Brussel Centraal/Central, but Brussel Zuid/Midi. Looking at the travelplanner there are trains (after the 11.59) at 12.16 ( to Brugge), 12,25 (Kortrijk), 12.44 (Blankenberge) and 12.59 (Oostende). So 4 trains an hour to Gent; enough trains to choose from. At Gent there are no Eurostartrains to the UK. That the topicstarter says that he travels with heavy cargo is a non issue.
     
  20. sk688

    sk688 Member

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    Wow , something worse than Euston for last minute platform changes .
    Never thought that would be possible
     
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