The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT) issued a press release in October 2022 announcing an Agreement on Journey Continuation (AJC). The content of the statement gives the passenger hope that, in the event of a loss of connection, he or she will be taken to his or her destination by the fastest possible route via alternative connections. On closer inspection, however, the real implementation falls short of expectations.
For example, the stranded passenger has to obtain a certificate at defined points outside the train in order to continue his/her journey. This can quickly lead to additional time losses and is not customer-friendly. Furthermore, many of the promises are only to be implemented in the further future, whereby the time period is not specified exactly. Also, it is very difficult for passengers to know to which transport companies this agreement applies and whom to contact.
The general meeting of EPF on 14.1.23 discussed the Agreement on Journey Continuation and defined the following fundamental requirements from the passenger’s point of view:
- Passengers need access to practical information, advice and support from the service providers’ agents when journeys go wrong (e.g., significant delays leading to missed connection)
- Passengers should be able to obtain this with minimum inconvenience (e.g., no need to identify booking point and join queue to obtain CIV ‘delay stamp’ before accessing next available service – operators’ information systems should hold necessary service performance data, accessible to its agents)
- Passengers need the default option of getting to their planned destination at the earliest available opportunity, at no additional cost, irrespective of operator or ticket held
- Passengers should be advised of their rights, both at time of planning journey and in the event of disruption
- Compensation in the event of poor performance and for any additional costs incurred by the user must be mandatory.
For EPF, operators should be challenged routinely to identify actual avoidable costs before accepting their objections on cost grounds to improved passenger rights’ measures (e.g., show that the right to transfer to the next available service, irrespective of operator or ticket held, in the event of missed connections due to delay does give rise to significant actual additional costs).
According to EPF’s assessment, all the agreed requirements can be implemented by the transport companies in the short term without any significant effort. If the railway undertakings – both incumbents and new entrants – lack the will to act on these requirements themselves, there must be legislation to ensure that in the event of delay and missed connection a passenger will be allowed to travel onwards to their destination by a later train at no additional charge, even if they hold separate tickets for each train and those trains are run by different operators.