Anyone who lives or works on the coast can always take the first train

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If its trains are full, the NMBS will make a distinction this weekend between tourists and those who want to go to the coast for ‘essential reasons’.

After the good weather last weekend drove too many people to the beaches of Blankenberge and Knokke, among others, the coastal mayors made every effort to prevent a repetition of the crowds. On Tuesday it was even decided to limit the train offer of the NMBS for this purpose (DS August 12). Moreover, the trains that do run will not be allowed to be more than 80 percent full. If this maximum occupancy has been reached, the NMBS will be able to refuse travelers. Or better: the NMBS will refuse day tourists. ‘People who live or work in one of the municipalities along the route are always allowed to take the first train’, says NMBS spokesperson Bart Crols. So they get priority.

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If a fully occupied train arrives at, for example, Ghent station, in theory only people will be allowed to get off there. Station staff and the police will stop new travelers from accessing the platform. Since neither the NMBS nor the police have legal powers to ask travelers about their destination, it is the intention that travelers making an ‘essential’ journey report spontaneously to the station staff.

The NMBS asks that they can also prove at that time – ‘with their identity card or a document from their employer’ – that they are not a day tourist. Even those who go to the sea for several days and therefore have booked a hotel, will have priority over those who only go one day. “We will not refuse anyone who absolutely has to be at their destination.”

The NMBS, together with the coastal mayors, is attaching a call to the restriction of the train supply to ‘not flock to the coast’. The weekend of August 15 is traditionally very busy there, although the temperatures would take a dip on Saturday.

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