You are here

Arson disrupts high-speed international trains from Brussels: officials

[BRUSSELS] High-speed Thalys and Eurostar international rail services were disrupted Monday after signalling cables were deliberately set on fire between Brussels and the French city of Lille, the Belgian railway operator said.

Infrabel spokesman Frederic Sacre said however there was no attempt to derail a train on the line serving the Belgian capital, Paris and London, a point he stressed amid a climate of fear over terrorist attacks.

"No train left Brussels for Lille and no train has left Lille for Brussels," Mr Sapre told AFP.

"At first we thought it was cable theft but that is not the case. It was a deliberate act targeting the signal system," Mr Sapre said.

Cables were set on fire in four different places near the town of Ath, close to the French border, he added.

"This has not caused any danger - when the signalling does not work, there is no traffic." "Prosecutors are at the scene, the police too are collecting evidence," Sapre said, adding that services were likely to be halted until at least early afternoon.

The disruptions affected the high-speed rail line between Brussels and Lille, which is used by Thalys, the TGV and Eurostar.

At 09.30 am (08.30 GMT), a total of 15 trains had been cancelled. Eurostar said that none of its trains had travelled between London and Brussels, confirming two of them had been cancelled.

Mr Sapre said: "In the current climate, we must be clear. It was not an attempt to derail a train, but that does not take away from the fact it is a serious attack on our infrastructure."

Belgium is on its second highest terror alert, level three, after the November 13 Paris attacks left 130 people dead and French investigators linked several of the extremists to Brussels.