Bus Fire Beneath Bridge: No Fault in Parking

Sarhan Basem

On Monday night, a bus parked under a railway bridge completely burned out at Brussels-Kapellekerk station. Apart from the vehicle itself, the damage was reasonably limited. At Infrabel, they indicate that this could have ended worse for train traffic and they want to emphasize that parking or standing still under bridges is, in principle, not allowed. However, the bus driver did not violate the traffic rules.

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Hypothetically, this fire could have ended very badly for train traffic, says Thomas Baeken, spokesman for infrastructure manager Infrabel. The North-South connection is one of the busiest points in Belgium for train traffic, with about seventy trains passing through during peak hours. A third of those trains run outside Brussels, so train traffic throughout Belgium would have been affected if the damage had been greater.

The stability of the bridge could have been compromised. “Luckily there is only concrete damage. We do impose a temporary speed limit for trains and the street is closed for work.”

Highway code


Once the bus was completely extinguished, the question quickly arose what that bus was doing there and whether it was allowed to park there. And although we learn while obtaining our driver’s license that standing still and parking on the roadway under a bridge is not allowed, this story is different. The bus was indeed parked according to regulations in parking spaces provided by Brussels City. The bus was therefore not parked under the bridge on the roadway, as prohibited in Article 25 paragraph 5 of the highway code. This was confirmed by a police officer present during the towing of the wreckage.

Following the fire, Infrabel will send a reminder to all competent authorities in Brussels. “It is important that they continue to follow the highway code, because there are also bridges where vehicles are really not allowed,” says Baeken.

Fire safety

In principle, Infrabel has little or no say in the traffic flow on public roads. They also nuance: parked vehicles under railway bridges are not the greatest concern, “because fires like this rarely, if ever, occur”. In all honesty, Baeken says that in his twelve years as a spokesperson, he has never experienced anything similar.

However, the fact that they have no say in roads under railway bridges does not mean that NMBS and Infrabel are not concerned with fire safety around their network. “In the same zone around Brussels-Kapellekerk station, we own a few spaces under the station, where the rules are extremely strict,” says Baeken. “For example, Recyclart had to move because they did not want to install cameras and fire detection systems.”

This article is originally published on bruzz.be

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.