Belgium is still a country where the unions are extremely powerful. Even with only 20% of support they are able to put the national railways to a standstill. The majority of people don't strike, so some trains are reported to run. However, it is advisable to not rely on the railways during a strike.

I will be arriving on Brussels airport on a day of railway strikes (the fifth this month!). I know I can use Taxi's and airport bus services. However, if the majority of trains don't run, the number of people that will rely on these services will be numerous, making them less reliable.

To make alternative options I need to know if it is known what percentage of the trains from Brussels airport do run. I don't mind waiting 2 hours if needed, but can you expect to have a train every 2 hours?

  • 2
    If it's anything like London, this isn't really answerable as it differs with every strike?
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 10, 2014 at 7:05
  • @markmayo but Belgium has way more strikes then London, so I am hoping there is more empirical data to make more reliable predictions. Also, Belgium is almost a country of professional strikers, given the number of strikes (5 already in december only), so Belgian strikes might be more efficient then those in London.
    – user141
    Dec 10, 2014 at 7:08
  • 1
    Is the introduction really necessary? It's debatable and mostly irrelevant.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 11, 2014 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


It depends. The question is if they block access to signaling control builing or not. You can not predict this beforehand, but generally they do. If signalling control building is inaccessible, no trains can pass in the area controlled by that specific building. If the signaling control buildings remain functioning, you can count on some trains, but can not predict which trains will be cancelled. This implies that it is not possible to count on any regularity in the style of "every x hours".

Some general rules:

  • National action, supported by all major unions: not a single train will ride.
  • Regional action, supported by all major unions: not a single train will ride in that region. This can also include trains coming from or going to the region in question.
  • National action, with limited support: impossible to predict for reasons mentioned above. It mainly depends where signalling control buildings are occupied and where (if any) tracks are blocked.
  • Regional action, with limited support: still harder to predict, but you get the point, I guess.

For the strikes with a limited support (like only a minor union), it is often possible to predict which regions will be mainly affected, because the minor unions often have regional strongholds where they are important, while they might be negligible elsewhere.

If you are referring to the strike on December 15th, you are in the first case. Not a single train will run from or to the airport.

  • I am referring to rail strikes on the 11th, but I like the generality of your answer. I live in belgium but I try to avoid Brussel AirPort as much as possible just because of the militant nature of Belgian unions, I apparently should avoid Belgian airports more :(
    – user141
    Dec 10, 2014 at 11:49
  • For the 11th you are in situation 3. It is anybody's guess. Dec 10, 2014 at 13:20

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