So do you want to go to Simonis?  Or Simonis?  The two signposts point down opposing escalators.  Such is the quandary  awaiting newly disembarked passengers at Brussels Midi station as they make their first intrepid exploration of the Brussels metro system.

It didn’t used to be like this.  Prior to April you had a clear and understandable choice – Simonis?  Or Delacroix?  (Or take a taxi).  But the reorganisation of the Brussels metro system has, and continues to create, increasing confusion for both visitors to the “capital of Europe” and the people who live there.

Line 2 has been made into a circle, reminiscent of London’s Circle Line.  Only it hasn’t.  Not quite.  The line now follows the Inner Ring and both starts and finishes at Simonis.  The two Simonises (Simonii?) are not linked, meaning that the STIB has missed a great opportunity to introduce a circle line worthy of the name.

Moreover, instead of stating whether such-and-such a train is going clockwise or anti-clockwise, signposts now point you in one direction to Simonis (Léopold II) or Simonis (Elizabeth).  Plumping incorrectly for one can lead to an unexpected tour of some of Brussels’s less salubrious districts on a network still alarmingly free of any personnel or security whatsoever.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating this is. I have been living in Brussels for over four years and have never got on the metro heading in the wrong direction.  Until now.  Quite how such confusion can result from a relatively small infrastructure is a mystery, but one thing is for sure – Brussels deserves better.

In the meantime, if you see any lost MEPs or Commissioners, please do them the courtesy of pointing them in the right direction.  That is, if you know where you are going yourself.

– Rob

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