Troubled Dutch-Belgian high-speed train suffers new setback

BRUSSELS Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:50pm EST

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BRUSSELS Jan 18 (Reuters) - A new high-speed rail service between Brussels and Amsterdam, already beset by teething troubles, has been suspended by the Belgian rail safety agency because of ice damage to the trains' undercarriages.

The agency said on Friday that the Fyra trains, which only entered service last month, could not run again until the problem that damaged the undercarriages of three trains had been solved. "There won't be any service at least until Monday evening," said a spokesman for the Belgian rail operator, SNCB.

To say the Fyra has not started well is an understatement. In its first week, malfunctions left passengers stranded at various stops along the route, forcing some to switch to buses.

On Friday morning, inspectors checking the track between Antwerp and the Dutch border found a grille that had fallen off a train.

The Fyra service, operated by SNCB and NS Hispeed, a subsidiary of Dutch Railways (NS), is supposed to link the Dutch and Belgian capitals in two hours - an hour less than the Benelux train, which has been withdrawn. The trains are made by AnsaldoBreda, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica.

A separate high-speed service, the Thalys, linking Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, has been running normally. (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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