Last November EPF hailed the European Parliament’s amendments to Commission proposals for a revised Rail Passenger Rights Regulation, aimed at ensuring a fairer deal for travellers. They reflect the consumer protection principles enshrined in Article 12 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, would ensure fairer competition with other transport modes and help to deliver a more attractive, user-friendly rail system.

But we warned that some of the incumbent rail companies would fight back ruthlessly and lobby their national government sponsors to obstruct the Parliament’s position through the European Council. And that is what now appears to be happening.

EPF has written to the Romanian Presidency to remind the Council of some of the consumer issues at stake.  It has also pointed out that, if adopted, a compromise which exempted rail operators from the obligation to pay compensation if delay can be attributed to a third party would be unacceptable.

With market opening, an increasing number of third parties are involved in enabling a trouble-free journey – from other railway undertakings to infrastructure managers, rolling-stock leasing companies, maintenance contractors and so on.  Railway undertakings should have the professional competence to manage those relationships, providing hassle-free travel for their passengers. They shouldn’t be evading their consumer protection obligations, obstructing the Union’s programme for market opening and the creation of a more competitive railway system.  Parliament has spoken: Europe’s citizens expect their governments and the rail sector to take heed.

In talks with members of the European Parliament, DG MOVE, Permanent Representatives and others, EPF consistently emphasised the following concerns:

  • All carriers must offer and provide non-discriminatory access to all travel information to other ticket providers, facilitating an integrated ticketing system.
  • In the event of delays and missed connections, the passenger must be entitled to continuing travel or rerouting to the final destination as soon as possible (including by use of other service providers).
  • Compensation for delay should be at least 50% of the single ticket price for 60-90 minutes delay, 75% at 91-120 minutes and 100% thereafter.
  • “Severe weather conditions” should not be grounds for force majeure.
  • All new and rebuilt trains within 2 years from the entry into force of the Regulation should have accommodation for up to 8 bicycles.
  • Information should be provided for passengers concerning on board services including WiFi and toilets.
  • National regulatory authorities shall publish complaints’ statistics annually.
  • Independent and affordable bodies for the resolution of disputes between passengers and operators shall exist in every Member State and publicised accordingly.

The Federation was pleased that MEPs responded positively, endorsing appropriate amendments to the proposed revision of the Passenger Rights’ Regulation.