Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Rail strike follows Belgian crash

Train collision at Halle, Belgium, 15 February 2010
It has been suggested that one of the trains may have missed a stop signal

Train workers in southern Belgium have gone on strike a day after 18 people were killed in a crash between two commuter trains.

The strike, which workers linked to the crash, added to the disruption of rail services in Belgium and beyond.

Eurostar trains between Brussels and the UK are suspended for a second day.

An investigation into the cause of Monday morning's train collision is under way, amid suggestions that one train may have missed a red signal.

The collision happened at Halle, south-west of Brussels. Dozens of people were injured.

Late on Monday, a statement from Belgium's national rail company SNCB and infrastructure operator Infrabel said the crash had been "lateral" and not head-on as previously reported.

"For reasons that are still unknown, the two trains collided laterally at points at the exit of Halle station on the way to Brussels," the statement said.

One of the two drivers was among those killed.

Search continues

Train workers were striking on Tuesday in protest at what they described as deteriorating working conditions, which they said could lead to accidents such as the one at Halle.

SNCB said the "spontaneous" strike was being widely followed and that there would be widespread disruption to train services in southern Belgium, or Wallonia, throughout Tuesday.

Eurostar cancelled its trains in and out of the Belgian capital on Monday and Tuesday.

The high-speed Thalys services to France, Germany and the Netherlands have also been suspended.

In a statement on its website, Eurostar said: "We advise that if you do not need to travel to Brussels on Tuesday 16 February that you defer or cancel your trip.

"You will be able to exchange your tickets for a later date or have them refunded."

Eurostar's Lille services were running with delays on Tuesday morning, while Paris services were also running with some delays due to an apparently unrelated power supply problem just outside Paris.

Officials have said it is too early to confirm the cause of the crash, with investigators looking at whether human error or a system failure may have been to blame.

The governor of Flemish Brabant province, Lodewijk De Witte, said on Monday that one of the trains seemed to have missed a stop signal.

A search for trapped bodies and clues to the cause of the collision resumed at the site of the crash on Tuesday.

Map showing Belgium and train lines affected by crash at Halle

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