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Apr 22, 10:30 AM EDT

Transport chaos as public sector strike hits trains, buses, subway in Belgian capital


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BRUSSELS (AP) -- Much of the transport in Europe's capital, Brussels, came to a halt Wednesday as public sector workers held a one-day strike over Belgian government austerity measures.

International train lines like Thalys and Eurostar, the national SNCB railway system, bus and underground services were all hit hard by the strike, which is to run until late Wednesday.

The big Brussels Nord station was fully closed and the trains to Brussels from Paris and London were also severely affected, although those between London and Paris were running as normal. Thalys fast trains to Amsterdam, Cologne and Paris were also be hit.

"I had a lot of meetings today in Paris," complained Nicolas De Kerangal, a French traveler. "I need to reschedule everything right now, and I will go to there tomorrow."

Brussels airport authorities warned travelers to show up early and look for alternative transport, since although flights were unaffected getting to the airport was proving difficult.

The socialist ACOD union leading a protest said that cuts in budgets and staffing in public institutions by the center-right government of Prime Minister Charles Michel have to soon take their toll on services.

"This is our only option: make sure that the government can see this strong signal," said ACOD leader Chris Reniers. Employers' federations lamented the action, which kept many at home and further undermined productivity during difficult times.

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