So far a satisfactory issue for EPF

After the vote of the European Parliament in plenary session on November 15 in Strasbourg, the issue of the Regulation 1371/2007 recast on Rail Passengers’ Rights is so far satisfying EPF, as amendments initiated or supported by our Federation have been adopted.

Main points are:

  • The excuse of “force majeure” has been deleted from the text;
  • Regional and suburban services are now included in the scope of the regulation. This is a major improvement, as 9 out of 10 rail passengers in the European Union are travelling on these contracted services;
  • Train delays above 60 minutes will be compensated by 50% , from 61 to 120 minutes by 75% and above 121 minutes by 100%;
  • New and refurbished trains including high speed and local services would be required to have “well indicated spaces for assembled bicycles”;
  • Railways’ staff in contact with the public should get specific training sessions for taking into account the needs of persons with reduced mobility, who should be assisted free of charge on trains and in stations by rail undertakings and/or station staff;
  • Passengers issued multiple tickets for a multi-leg journey would have the same rights as those holding a through ticket.

However after this First Reading step, the text is far from being finalised, as it now has to go through the scrutiny of the Council of Ministers and will then be subject to compromise between the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council. It highly improbable that positive provisions secured in the first step should be entirely confirmed and we have to be prepared to expect strong resistance from some Member States backed by their incumbent rail companies.

The Commission itself seems to be convinced that the text should not remain as it is, as it was confirmed to Michel Quidort and Willy Smeulders on November 21 during an interview with Elisabeth Kotthaus, Head of Social Aspects, Passengers Rights & Equal Opportunities at DG Move.

In the meantime, EPF members are invited to lobby their national Governments and Permanent Representations in Brussels to support passengers’ interests as stated in the present version of Regulation 1371/2007.

The legislative process will continue until May 2019 elections and after this date with the new Parliament and the new Commission, with an expected final stage and publication in 2020.