Lawmakers on Wednesday adopted new rules that better protect rail passengers in the case delays or cancellations of transport and when faced with discrimination.
Parliament on Thursday approved an agreement with member states on a revised Regulation on rail passengers' rights. It will guarantee passengers that they can count on diversion and assistance in the event of delays or cancellations. Accessibility and assistance for people with reduced mobility will be improved, and dedicated places for bicycles will be provided.
"We have good news for those who use trains when traveling. We have managed to ensure equal minimum rights for passengers across Europe in terms of rerouting, bicycle space, unique tickets and the rights of passengers with reduced mobility. This is an important step forward in achieving more convenient and passenger-friendly rail transport”Said the rapporteur Bogusław Liberadzki from Poland.
Passenger assistance in case of traffic disruption
In the event of a delay of more than 60 minutes, passengers can choose whether they wish to refund the full price of the ticket, continue the journey or reroute under comparable conditions, but at no additional cost. In doing so, they must not be moved to a lower class of transport. If the passenger is not informed about the possibilities of diversion within 100 minutes from the scheduled time of departure, he has the right to independently organize the trip by other means of transport and receive a refund for a new travel ticket.
Diversion obligations also apply in case of force majeure, and passengers are provided with meals and drinks as needed and accommodation costs are reimbursed.
The new rules more clearly define cases of force majeure that exempt railway undertakings from the obligation to pay compensation for delays or cancellations. In addition to extreme weather events and major natural disasters, cases of force majeure now include both public health crises and terrorist attacks. Railway staff strikes are not considered force majeure.
Help for people with reduced mobility - More room for bikes on trains
Passengers with reduced mobility will have more flexibility in arranging the trip as they will have to communicate their plans to the carrier only 24 hours before departure (according to the current rules they must inform him 48 hours before). If the railway undertaking requires such passengers to be accompanied on the train, the accompanying persons shall travel free of charge. People with reduced mobility who travel with a helper dog are guaranteed that the dog will travel with them.
To enable sustainable mobility, all trains must have dedicated seats and bicycle stands. Each train must have at least four bicycle seats.
The revised rules will in principle apply to all international and domestic rail travel and all international and domestic rail services throughout the Union, with Member States being able to exempt domestic rail services for a limited period.
The Regulation will enter into force twenty days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. It will start to apply two years later, except unfortunately for the bicycle space requirement, which will come into force four years after the entry into force of the Regulation.