1. The investigation
We investigate your complaint on the basis of the facts, the context, legal texts and regulations. We always listen to both parties.
All the necessary information must be provided to us. We are not part of any railway company and cannot simply consult their databases. What can this information consist of? At the bottom of this page you will find a non-exhaustive list with some examples.
2. The mediation
We mediate between you and the railway company or railway manager. This means that all correspondence goes via our service. We always act confidentially.
In the first stage, we give the railway company a specific picture of the complaint, and can already propose a solution in order to reach an agreement.
If no positive outcome can be achieved, and if there are sufficient arguments for further mediation, we move on to the second phase. Here, we can propose a compromise (reconciliation proposal) to the railway company or manager. The railway company has nine calendar days to respond. In the absence of a response, the proposal will be considered accepted.
If the railway company rejects the proposal, we can move on to a third and final stage, in which the Board of Ombudsmen issues an opinion.
Wherever possible, our opinions are intended to avoid similar problems. The railway company must respond to an opinion within 30 days.
Please note that the Ombudsman service cannot impose solutions on the railway companies, what we achieve is always the result of reconciliation.
Legal duties and powers
The 'Ombudsman for SNCB' was established by the Law of 21 March 1991, Articles 43-47, on the reform of certain economic public companies (Belgian Official Gazette 27 March 1991, Belgian Official Gazette 20 July 1991). This Law was repealed by the Law of 28 April 2010 containing various provisions, Title 2, Chapter 1, Section 2 (Belgian Official Gazette 10 May 2010), whereupon we became the "Ombudsman Service for Train Passengers".
(translation) "Art. 11. § 1. An Ombudsman service shall be implemented to handle matters relating to transport and infrastructure services used by passengers and users, with the exception of complaints for which another ombudsman appointed by or pursuant to the law is competent".
The Ombudsman service is responsible for:
- investigating all complaints from passengers and users regarding the services provided by railway companies or railway managers;
- mediating in disputes between railway companies or railway managers on the one hand and their passengers or users on the other, in order to reach a satisfactory outcome;
- making a recommendation to the railway companies or managers if no satisfactory outcome can be reached;
- informing passengers or users who contact it orally or in writing, regarding their rights and interests;
- issuing opinions in the context of its duties, at the request of the Minister responsible for transport.
More information regarding our legal basis:
Royal Decree of 24/10/2012: NL / FR
*Which information can we use in our investigation? A few examples:
As proof that you first addressed the complaint to the railway company:
- Original complaint to the railway company
- Acknowledgement of receipt from the railway company
- Response from the railway company
Regarding a journey:
- Your ticket (always retain the original copy)
- Proof of purchase, account statement
- What was your route (arrival and departure station)? Train number? Time of departure and arrival?
Nature of the complaint:
- Copy of the request for compensation in the event of delays
- "Ticket" or "Regularisation" which you received on the train
- Fine issued by the railway company
- Lost Property form
- Description and/or photo of the lost property
- Photos/description of any physical or material damage
- Medical reports, certificates
Handling your complaint:
- Your address details
- Summary of the facts – what is your claim?
- What would be a fair outcome for you?
- Bank account number for possible reimbursement