The start of a two-day rail strike has largely paralyzed train traffic in and around the Belgian capital Brussels and disrupted service to Paris and London.

Brussels's main Midi station was largely deserted Wednesday as the trade union action took hold. The unions are protesting against planned government reforms aimed at streamlining services and making the sector more efficient. Unions say they will cost thousands of jobs and cut services at a time when environmentally friendly public transport is essential.

The unions complained that no serious negotiations had taken place in 2015 to seek a compromise on the reforms, forcing them into strike action.

The Thalys line to Paris and Eurostar to London say their services will be cut or severely affected in Belgium for two days.