Rail travel nowadays accounts for a small proportion of European cross-border passenger journeys. This long-term decline in market share is partly because travel by road or air is usually much easier, partly because the quality, extent and coherence of the rail system’s offering has deteriorated on all but a few routes.
Many passengers are deterred from using rail for international travel – even when they have found ways of accessing the information necessary to plan a cross-border journey – because they fear the effects of disruption and delay on the validity of the tickets they hold. Passengers need the assurance of consistent support that will enable them to reach their destination at the earliest appropriate opportunity and at no extra cost when their journey is disrupted, whichever the operators involved, wherever the country they are in, and whatever the relevant tickets held for the journey.
CIT’s* Agreement on Journey Continuation provides the basis for a guarantee of this sort, but it needs improvement if it is to be truly fit for purpose. Every railway undertaking must join it, its application needs to be passenger-friendly, and its existence and provisions should be made known to every passenger when searching and booking their trip. CER* has committed to the extension of the CIT Agreement to cover all cross-border journeys and to encourage all railway undertakings to participate. This is a welcome and long-overdue step.
EPF is working together with CIT and CER to take all this forward. If this basic contribution cannot be delivered voluntarily by the whole sector we are demanding regulatory intervention. Time is of the essence. Passenger confidence in Europe’s cross-border network is vital to promoting more sustainable travel.
* CIT: International Rail Transport Committee; CER: Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies