MEPs vote for upgrade to rail passenger rights

rail germany

A high-speed ICE train at the main train station in Halle. © Unknown , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service .

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


Updated rail passengers’ rights should include higher compensation rates for delays and better assistance to people with reduced mobility.

MEPs backed changes to the 2009 rules that aim to ensure better assistance to people with reduced mobility, better access for cyclists, and clearer complaints-handling procedures. Furthermore, rail companies should improve information given to passengers about their rights and increase compensation paid to commuters in case of delays.

Higher compensation rates after long delays

MEPs increased compensation for delays longer than an hour, from 25 percent to 50 percent of the ticket price. Passengers have this right to compensation in addition to maintaining the right to continue the journey or be rerouted.

Passengers would be entitled to 75 percent of the ticket price for a delay of an hour and thirty minutes, and 100 percent of the ticket price for delays of more than two hours.

To avoid passengers being left stranded after a missed connection, MEPs clarified that in the case that a passenger has been issued several tickets for a multi-leg journey, the rights to information, assistance and compensation are the same as under a through-ticket.

MEPs also rejected proposals to exempt rail operators from paying compensation in case of “extraordinary circumstances”.

Better assistance for people with reduced mobility

Assistance for people with reduced mobility should be free of charge and available at larger stations, without the need to give prior notification.

MEPs also reduced the time for pre-notification in case assistance is needed at smaller stations and clarified the responsibility of rail operators and station managers for fully compensating passengers, if they have caused loss of or damage to mobility equipment.

More room for bicycles

Passengers are entitled to take bicycles on board the train, including on high-speed trains, long distance, cross-border and local services, the adopted text says. New and refurbished trains must have well‑indicated spaces to transport assembled bicycles.

Uniform application of EU rail passenger rights rules

MEPs also backed an earlier phase-out of temporary exemptions used by a number of member states to apply only parts of the 2009 passenger rules on domestic rail services. These exemptions should end at the latest 1 year after the entry into force of the amended rules.

MEPs also want the rules to apply to suburban rail services.

Quote

Rapporteur Boguslaw Liberadzki (S&D, PL):

“Today is a great day for consumer rights. Soon passengers will be able to take bicycles on every train and persons with reduced mobility can rely on better assistance at stations and on trains. Parliament takes consumer rights very seriously, so we are also proposing higher compensation payments in case of delays and want to ensure that passengers on journeys which involve more than one connection and who have been issued separate tickets have the full protection of the rules”.

Next steps

MEPs adopted the Parliament’s position on the revision of rail passenger rights’ rules with 533 in favour, 37 against and 47 abstentions. Once the Council has adopted its position, the negotiations can start on the final wording of the new rules.

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