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I am landing in Brussels later today at 17.35 and was planning to continue by train to Ghent. I just learned that the trains are on strike so this option has disappeared. The strike ends at 22 so maybe it is possible to catch a train then. Are there any options better than waiting? Also - may it be smart to get a bus into Brussels and wait for the trains there?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Fot his specific strike, my answer is too late, but since the Belgian railways are prone for strikes (sometimes even instant strikes) I can still answer.

The bus connection google mentions is not worth a try, especially if there are strikes. You mention 3 connections, meaning in practice your travel time will be doubled due to at least one missed connection.

In my opinion there are three options.

  1. Enjoy brussels during the strike
  2. For the adventurous and sportive traveler buying a bike might be a good solution. It is only 54 kilometers and the scenery is worth it. Buying a bike at shops like the Hema or Decathlon it is definitely cheaper then renting a car. Google maps will give you coordinates
  3. Send a tweet with the hashtags #nmbs and #staking and ask for either a hitchhike or others to share in the costs for renting a car or a taxi. I am using this approach a lot in similar situation and I am always surprised how well that works.
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Using google maps directions I found this option using the bus network: Google map link. It involves four buses: 821 to Merchtem, 245 onwards to Dendermonde, 28 to Wetteren and finally number 34 to Gent. It seems that the latest option for this route starts at 18:16 making it hard to catch with a flight arriving 17:55. (If I remember correctly Brussels is one of those airports where you walk forever before reaching arrivals.)

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Yes, you remember correctly :) –  Sergio Tulentsev Oct 3 '12 at 10:09
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If you can afford it the best option is to rent a car.

This is what I ended up doing. I was a bit worried that there would be no cars left due to the strike but I guess people need to get to the airport then too. Anyway I booked one in advance and found it in the midst of an ocean of other rentals.

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might be expensive to get a one-way rental car (there's usually a steep additional fee for leaving a rental at a different spot from where you picked it up, and Ghent might not even have an office of the rental company he ends up with at Brussels airport). A taxi might be a better option for him. –  jwenting Oct 4 '12 at 6:42
    
actually that guy is me. :-) anyways - a one way rental was 90€ and 4 days roundtrip that I went for was 160€. –  froderik Oct 5 '12 at 18:13
    
that's not a bad price for a car rental in Europe, especially at an airport :) –  jwenting Oct 8 '12 at 6:32
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