Tips and Topics In Belgium


March 2007 20 Year Anniversary after the Zeebrugge Car Ferry disaster.

The 6th March 2007 marked the 20th Anniversary of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry disaster .Survivors of The Herald of Free Enterprise Townsend Thoresen car ferry have joined relatives of some of the 193 victims for a commemorative service 20 years after the disaster.The Herald of Free Enterprise was bound for the Kent port when it capsized at Zeebrugge harbour on a cold March evening in, Belgium, in 1987.

Church services were also held in Dover and Zeebrugge, on Sunday 4 March, two days before the anniversary. The Dover service was held at St Mary's Church in Dover, which has a commemorative stained glass window to those lost in the disaster. The Zeebrugge service was held at St Donaas Church.

The ferry company Townsend Thoresen, which later became P&O European Ferries, was severely criticised for its "sloppiness" in a public inquiry report published later in 1987. P&O European Ferries was charged with corporate manslaughter and seven employees were charged with manslaughter but there were no convictions.

The inquiry confirmed that the ferry had left the harbour with its bow doors open, allowing water to flood the car deck and forcing the ferry to overturn. The crew member responsible for closing the doors was asleep at the time.

December 2006 New Eurostar terminal to open in London in November

The new Eurostar terminal at London's St Pancras International station will be open on the 14th November. The new station is served by the UK's first high speed line that has been named as "High Speed 1". It will cut journey times between London, Paris and Brussels by an average of 23 / 25 minutes. The fastest travel time between London and Paris will be 2 hours 15 mins . (Currently 2 hours 35 mins) and from London to Brussels 1 hour 51 mins (Currently 2 hours 15 mins ).St Pancras International will have far better connections to London and the UK, with six Underground lines serving St Pancras International and five train operators serving St Pancras, King's Cross and nearby Euston.

August 2006 — Aer Lingus will be charging for carrying luggage

The Irish airline Aer Lingus has followed Ryanair and FlyBe in annoucing that it will charge passengers extra for baggage it carries in the aircraft hold. This will be from the 17th January 2007. They will levy a fee 8.00 / £5.50 for each bag carried for short haul flights or half if it is booked on line in advance. This fee policy reflects the moves among some low cost airlines like Irish competitor Ryanair to apportion costs for optional services. The company has abolished complimentary catering on its European network. The policy will not affect British Airways passengers who are booked on "code share flights" (EI127 /BA329 for excample) that operated from London Heathrow to Dublin, Cork and Shannon. British Airways has negotiated for its passengers to be exempt from the charge.

March 2006 jml Property Insurance can now offer Holiday home property insurance to many European countries.

jml property insurance has been acting as an agent introducing Landlord and Tenant insurance in the UK since 2002. As the company is heavily involved in self-catering holiday home rentals with, there have been numerous requests for property insurance for owner's holiday homes in mainland Europe as well as the UK. There are now more and more people buying holiday homes overseas and in the it makes sense to deal with a company that can provide a policy written in a language the owner can understand.

jmlcan now introduce owners in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden,Malta, Cyprus and the UK to a policy written in English and underwritten at Lloyds. The premiums are payable in £ sterling and the insurance is arranged via Andrew Copeland (Insurance Consultants) Ltd.

Andrew Copeland are based in London and are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority in the UK. This is very good news for the owner of that dream holiday home property who is not too fluent in French, Spanish or Portuguese who can now understand the full details of the policy in his or her native tongue.

Further details can be found by going to

February 2006 — 2006 Belgian Grand Prix cancelled.

The 2006 Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps has been cancelled. It was announced by the FIA on the 8th February. The Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone had demanded that the circuit be redeveloped. That would have meant cancelling other races at the circuit before the grand prix was held in September. The FIA confirmed that the Belgian authorities had requested the cancellation saying "The withdrawal has been made in order to allow the completion of extensive improvement work to facilities at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The FIA hopes that the event will be included in the Formula One calendar from 2007".

January 2006 — Ryanair to offer online check-in and luggage fees.

Passengers travelling on the budget airline Ryanair are to be offered cheaper airfares and the option to check on in the Internet from March 16th 2006. They will also face charges of £5 / €7 for each item of luggage they check in. The company says that it could cut the number of airport queues for its flights by as much as half and will incentivise passengers to travel with only hand baggage.

Any bag that weighs more than 10kg will have to be checked in. There are also restrictions as to what can be carried on board. Ski boots will have to travel in the hold. Under the new system, any passenger travelling with hand luggage who has an EU passport will be able to check in at the company’s website up to three days before their flight.

Passengers will be asked to print up their own boarding card, complete with a pre-arranged barcode. Upon arrival at the airport they can go directly to the security check in, thus avoiding the check in desks. Passengers who also check in their luggage on line will be charged €3.50 for each bag on the flight and will still have to present their bags at the normal check in desks.

Ryanair has beaten easyJet in becoming the first no-frills airline to offer passengers the option of checking in on line and said it was something they were considering. Aer Lingus has confirmed that it also intends to introduce online check-in later this year, but has no plans to charge customers for each piece of luggage checked in.

Ryanair operates service to and from Brussels — Charleroi from many destinations within Europe

The information provided here on the Tips and Topics in Belgium page is given in good faith and should not be relied on for accuracy

Holiday Home Property Insurance for France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Cyprus, England, Scotland and Wales — visit our Holday Home Insurance section.

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