The bulk of the budget - around €2bn - has been allocated to fleet investment. Around 40% of SNCB’s rolling stock is more than 30 years old and the operator plans to reduce this figure to 20% by 2023.
Plans for the fleet therefore centre around the delivery of new rolling stock. SNCB has already ordered 445 M7 double-deck coaches from a consortium of Alstom and Bombardier and these will replace life-expired vehicles while adding 20,000 seats to the fleet by 2022 to accommodate forecast ridership growth.
The plan allocates funding for the mid-life refurbishment of existing rolling stock and the installation of ETCS, which must be completed by 2023. There will also be investment in real-time passenger information and a new booking website will be launched in 2018.
However, the board has rejected a proposal to equip the fleet with Wi-Fi, which is considered too costly.
SNCB will invest €300m in the modernisation of train maintenance facilities with a focus on the further digitalisation of rolling stock maintenance processes.
€1bn will be invested in stations over the next four years with the aim of providing a “warmer welcome” for passengers. The budget includes funds to continue modernisation works at a number of stations where improvements are already underway, including Gent-Sint Pieters, Mons and Mechelen.
There will also be improvements at smaller stations and SNCB will add 10,000 extra car parking spaces by the end of 2022.
The programme to raise platform heights to 76cm for level boarding will continue, and the number of stations with 76cm platforms will exceed 200 by 2022. New elevators and escalators will be installed to improve accessibility and SNCB will open 25 new stations by 2022, all of them compliant with TSI-PRM (Passengers with Reduced Mobility).