The European Parliament backed changes to the 2009 rules on the revision of rail passenger rights (Regulation 1371/2007 (EC) that passed 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.
“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,” rapporteur Boguslaw Liberadzki, said.
The updated rail passengers’ rights include 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”.
The rail companies should improve information given to passengers about their rights and increase compensation paid to commuters in case of delays.
Regarding the passengers with reduced mobility, the assistance should be free of charge and available at larger stations, without the need to give prior notification. In addition, 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.
The recast also envisages better access for passengers with bicycles. Passengers are entitled to take bicycles on board the train, including on high-speed trains, long distance, cross-border and local services. New and refurbished trains must have well indicated spaces to transport assembled bicycles.
Every year passengers travel some 500 billion kilometres on Europe’s rail network.