On 19. May, EPF and UITP jointly organised a webinar on Rail Passenger Rights. The webinar was attended by some 130 participants and provided concrete information on the state of the art of rail passengers’ rights in Member States of the European Union. One of the main conclusions was that domestic legislation in many cases is already surpassing the very modest improvements included in the new Regulation 2021/782,  adopted on April 29.

In her introductory speech, Elisabeth Kotthaus, Head of Unit Passengers Rights at DG Move, insisted on the most important provisions benefiting to the customer and put them in the context of the “2021 European Year of Rail” campaign. UITP’s presentation confirmed the operators’ vision on the revised text.

Anne-Laure Merre (UITP) mentioned concrete actions realised so far, such as the common Passenger Charter developed together with EPF, the UITP-EDF-IRU Accessibility Guide for operators and authorities and the implemented UITP Training on accessibility. She underlined the evolving context and the wish to collaborate to improve the passenger’s experience. As for operators, RATP Paris concentrated on the accessibility issue in a more than one hundred year old metro system, while Wiener Linien Vienna explained how the “Easymobil” MaaS platform could enhance passengers’ perception and experience.

In his presentation, Michel Quidort (EPF) insisted on the few positive points in the new Regulation, but above all on the fact that, in some countries, domestic provisions are going well beyond European legislation. This is the case for compensations in case of delays or cancellations, not only for mainline railways (Great Britain, France), but also for regional, suburban and even urban services (Germany, Great Britain) . Other examples were provided, such as training front line staff with respect to disability awareness (Great Britain), cooperation between authorities, passengers representatives and operators to assess and improve daily service quality, or the “Big Hearted Employee” action in Germany with passengers nominating each year rail employees who have distinguished themselves through exceptional customer service.

Emil Frodlund (EPF) concluded the webinar showing how Swedish legislation on passengers’ rights was paving the way to better consumer protection. The aim is to increase PT market share through attractiveness provided by a harmonisation of passengers’ rights, which should be applicable for short distance journeys by train, metro, tram or bus. The Swedish legislation will create incentives for carriers to provide more reliable services. Finally, development of a EU wide passengers’ rights legislative framework could learn from the Swedish experience.

Service quality is key to increase PT market share, and passengers’ rights are part of the service provided. Solid and consistent passengers’ rights are therefore necessary if the EU wants to achieve the ambitious objectives of the “Green Deal” in terms of modal shift to public transport and sustainable mobility.

EPF’s presentations shown during the webinar can be consulted here.