The European Parliament approved the agreement with member states on the revised rules on rail passenger rights which will better protect the passengers when there are delays and cancellations or when they face discrimination.
The rules will enter into force 20 days after they are published in the Official Journal of the EU (on 12 May 2021). They will start to be applied two years later, with the exception of the bicycle space requirements, which will be applicable four years after the entry into force of the regulation.
The rules will guarantee that passengers can be re-routed and receive help when there are delays and cancellations. Access and assistance will improve for people with reduced mobility, and there will be more dedicated spaces for bicycles.
“The new rules will significantly improve rail passengers’ protection in case of delays, cancellations, missed connections. Also, the new regulation responds better to the needs of people with disabilities or reduced mobility. Strong rail passenger rights are essential to improving the sector’s image and attracting more people to rail, two of our objectives for the European Year of Rail,” the European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Adina Vălean said.
The new passenger rights framework includes a new obligation for carriers qualifying as a ‘sole undertaking’ to offer their international, long-distance domestic and regional rail services as a through-ticket. As a “sole undertaking” qualify carriers, where for example one rail carrier owns 100% of another one. This would ensure a more comprehensive protection for passengers against missed connections when travel is disrupted, including ticket reimbursement or compensation, the right to accommodation when a journey cannot continue the same day, and refreshments.
Under the new regulation the infrastructure managers and railway undertakings will have to provide real-time dynamic traffic and travel information, not only to railway undertakings, but also to ticket vendors and tour operators. In addition, where passengers have not been offered a solution within 100 minutes of the disruption, as to how the journey can continue, they will have a new right to self-re-routing.
The new rules on rail passenger rights also shorten the pre-notification period for assistance requests for those with disabilities or reduced mobility to 24 hours.
In an effort to provide more sustainable mobility and comfortable alternatives, all trains must be equipped with dedicated spaces and racks for bicycles, with at least four bicycle spaces on each train.