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Belgium rail strike disrupts links

Train links through Belgium as well as local trains have been largely halted by a rail workers' strike. It's disrupted rapid services run by Thalys, Eurostar and German Rail. Substitute buses are operating from Cologne.

Belgium's SNCB national railways said passenger services in the country' French-speaking Wallonia were halted and were "very limited" in Dutch-speaking Flanders on Monday because of the strike.

The 24-hour stoppage, which was due to finish at 10 p.m. local time (8 p.m. UTC), was called by the socialist CGSP rail union and included locomotive drivers. The union argues that staff hiring is not keeping pace with workforce departures.

Traffic jams around Brussels

Many rail commuters resorted on Monday to using cars around Brussels, resulting in long tailbacks on motorways.

Thalys, which operates high-speed trains from Paris though Brussels and on to Cologne and Essen in Germany said on its website that the strike had prompted it to suspend its services for the "whole day."

German Rail said its high-speed ICE trains from Frankfurt were terminating in Cologne, where passengers could board buses to complete their journey to Brussels.

Eurostar said its trains, which normally link Brussels with London via the Eurotunnel, were operating from the French city of Lille, near the Belgian border. A reduced timetable was in effect.

The stoppage resembled a similar strike in 2010.

ipj/ng (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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